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Presented to the 

LIBRARY of the 












From original Edition, 1859. With Additions in 1893 










1858 1 

LETTER FROM MR. RFSKIN, No. 1 . . .43 

No. 2 .... 60 









BABT tofacexxv 



rpHIRTY-FOUR years have elapsed since 
the few pages which follow have been out 
of print in their present form. 

A third edition of the little volume was 
published in 1861 by an editor, at a time when 
I was deeply engaged and unable to attend to 
any unnecessary work. After it had been 
printed I was much concerned to find that 
Mr. Ruskin's Letters had been omitted, being 
informed that they were to be separately 
published. Since that time I have taken no 
further interest in issues of the volume, for 
its value mainly depended on the Address- 

viii Preface to Reprint of 

being accompanied by Mr. Ruskin's Letters, 
and the Letters by the Address. I have been 
repeatedly pressed of late years to reissue 
them together. For this and for other reasons 
I consent. These reasons are closely related 
to the state of Science and of Art in the middle 
of this century, and specially to Mr. Ruskin's 
connexion with the advance of modern Thought 
and Education. Now that the building, in- 
complete as it still is, is devoted to the actual 
work of Science, the history of its Art is 
practically forgotten. The Address was given 
in 1858, by their desire, to Architectural 
Societies while the Museum was still in 
course of erection. There were two reasons 
why the building excited their attention. 

The one, a general interest in the progress 
and development of Scientific Education in the 
old University. 

The other, interest in the manner in which 
the edifice was being erected, and in the 
persons who were concerned therein. 

' The Oxford Museum ' ix 

It was widely known that the object, and 
the method of carrying it out, were then 
violently opposed in the University. Every 
grant was carried in Convocation by a 
narrow majority. That for the gas-pipes for 
lighting the Court, for instance, was carried. 
That for the burners was lost by two. It is 
often supposed that this was chiefly owing 
to a dominant theological party. This was 
not the fact. It is true that one Vice- 
Chancellor, a religious leader, gave as the 
reason of his opposition that Science tends to 
Infidelity a strange argument for a believer in 
a Creator. But it is also true that Dr. Pusey, 
then, except Mr. Newman, perhaps the greatest 
power in the University, replying to a young 
teacher of science, who asked whether it was 
to be counted a danger and an evil if he sought 
faithfully to discharge tke duty committed to 
his care, said : ( The desire to acquire scientific 
knowledge and the power to attain it are alike 
the gift of God, and are to be used as such. 

x Preface to Reprint of 

While I see you reverently acting in this 
sense you may rely on my help, whenever I 
can give it/ Ten years afterwards, the final 
vote in Convocation for the Museum would 
have been lost but for Dr. Pusey and his 
friends, who supported Dr. Cotton, the then 
Vice-Chancellor, when he took a wider and 
truer view of man and of truth than his 

When, at the competition for designs, two 
were selected one Gothic, by Sir Thomas 
Dean and Mr. Woodward, one Renaissance, 
by Mr. Barry Mr. Ruskin strongly advocated 
the Gothic, not so much perhaps for the 
actual design, as for the relative value of 
Gothic Architecture. It was quite understood 
that no building could be satisfactorily com- 
pleted for the proposed amount, and provide 
what the several Professors even at that time 
required. Economy, not completeness, was 
practically the first object with even the 
majority. One condition, therefore, with those 

' The Oxford Museum J xi 

who were in earnest, was an Architecture which 
readily lent itself to extension in any direction, 
as enlargement was called for. Now this was 
essentially the character of every period of 
good Gothic. The actual design attracted 
much attention, more even than the contest 
whether modern Science should really find a 
worthy dwelling-place in Oxford. That point 
was now settled. Henceforward it was with 
the Science workers a matter of care that the 
building should be rapidly completed, and 
fitted for scientific work in the most practical 
manner. But Mr. Ruskin and others felt 
heartily that a larger debt than that was due 
to the Scientific study of Nature. f Nature/ 
said Sir Thomas Brown, ( is the Art of God/ 
The University owed both to the Nation and 
to the student of Nature, however simple and 
self-denying his ways, that his surroundings 
should be at least as decent and as convenient 
for his studies as are the Libraries to the 
student of Letters, the Common Room or the 

xii Preface to Reprint of 

College Halls to the recreation of the scholars. 
Once on a time any place was good enough for 
a Medical Student. The neglect of him by 
Governments was a proverb. What was the 
result ? A surgeon of note was shown to me 
when I entered my profession, as the one man 
strong enough to carry away a body under 
each arm from a graveyard, for the c body 
snatchers' at a ' Resurrection party/ When 
for the first time I opened the door of a 
dissecting-room, a stalwart porter in blue 
apron, shirt sleeves tucked up, threw towards 
the lofty skylight a black and putrid human 
head, and, kicking out his foot in jest, called 
out to the students : ( Who wants a kick ? ' and 
caught his football in his hands. In so far 
as surroundings in work can influence the 
tone of those who enter them, Ruskin and 
his friends helped to make association of this 
kind impossible, and students of medicine 
would not now tolerate them. They are 
banished for ever. 

' The Oxford Museum ' xiii 

I must not say more on this point, for 
Ruskin's Letters, now happily republished here, 
together with the slight sketch in the Address 
to which they refer, say that which I could 
never say. The studies of the Museum are 
the study of the Universe in a National Uni- 
versity ; of Nature in its Unity, and in its 
several component parts, in its history, in its 
relation to her Maker and to Man. Mr. Ruskin 
was worthily supported by the then young 
artists who as Pre-Raphaelite Brothers pre- 
sently attained their great reputation, as well 
as by Mr. Watts and Mr. Woolner and others. 
I must not here attempt to describe how this 
happened, or what they did. They gathered 
with enthusiasm round Ruskin and Woodward. 
Dante Rossetti, Morris, Alexander Munro, 
Millais, Holman Hunt, Pollen, Woolner, 
aided every step with the deepest interest. 
Several painted unpaid historical designs on 
the large roof of the Union Library which 
Woodward built. Munro executed four of the 

xiv Preface to Reprint of 

five statues, most generously most helpfully 
given by Her Gracious Majesty. Under the 
inspiration of these Artists the workmen 
designed capitals illustrating the natural orders 
of plants. Friends gave the polished shafts, 
more than one hundred in number, to illustrate 
British Rocks : Ruskin, three hundred pounds 
to improve the work of one set of windows. 
The University was not asked to contribute 
one of these. Love of Art, Love of Nature, 
Love of Science, Love of working-men, in their 
several bearings, practical, poetical, heart- 
lifting, animated all concerned. As I look 
back over the thirty-nine years, I feel that 
Ruskin, Woodward and Deane were the centre 
of all. Much might (and one day should) be 
said of the direction of work and thought 
when the Museum, though incomplete both for 
Science and for Art, became, unfinished as it 
was, the chief Laboratory of the University 
for instruction and research. It has had a 
chequered career, in which there are, and 

' The Oxford Museum ' xv 

must be, for joy and for hope, some things 
to regret. 

Unwilling as I am to add one mournful touch 
to a story of effort and success, it would be 
unjust to Mr. Ruskin and unfair to the Museum 
and my readers not to record here how the 
Museum became, some twenty years afterwards, 
the cause of Mr. Ruskin's resignation, and of 
his withdrawal from Oxford. In 1881 Professor 
Rolleston, who had been the first Professor of 
Anatomy and Physiology after the Museum was 
erected, a man of rare acquirements, noble 
heart, and indomitable energy, was taken 
from us. We had long felt that his Professor- 
ship, important as its establishment had been 
in its first form, embraced a range of biological 
subjects too great for any man in the rapid 
growth of Science. It was therefore on his death 
divided into a Chair of Anatomy and a Chair 
of Physiology. To the former Chair Rolleston's 
favourite pupil Moseley, whom he had trained, 
and for whom with true insight he had obtained 

xvi Preface to Reprint of 

the post of Naturalist to H. M. S. Challenger, 
was appointed ; to the latter, Dr. Burdon- 
Sanderson, already famous for the breadth and 
depth of his biological knowledge, normal and 
abnormal, and specially of medicine, scientific 
and pathological. The University voted at 
once a large sum for the construction of 
Physiological Laboratories on Dr. Sanderson's 
designs. Afterwards, when a grant of 500 
a year was proposed to Convocation for carry- 
ing on the work in them, a violent concerted 
opposition was organized : non-residents were 
brought up from all parts of the country, 
and a scene ensued in the Sheldonian Theatre 
such as in the last half century has but 
once before been witnessed. The attack was 
led with intense earnestness by the late 
Professor Freeman. The objection was the 
practical recognition of vivisection, in which 
Professor Sanderson was a famous expert, 
and author of an important manual thereon. 
The grant was carried. Mr. Ruskin resigned 

1 The Oxford Museum ' xvii 

his Professorship by a formal letter to the Vice- 

This is not the place to enter upon the 
merits of experimental researches on living 
beings except in relation to Mr. Ruskin. 
Few probably would now doubt that the time 
was already past for taking the course which 
he felt to be his duty. The Professor had been 
appointed. His laboratories had been erected. 
To make the work, judged by him to be right, 
impossible was hopelessly illogical. Moreover, 
a large part of physiological instruction does 
not involve fresh experiments on living ani- 
mals, and none can be performed in England 
before students without special license granted 
under the Act of Parliament. But the 
sad fact of Mr. Huskies decision remains. 
How did it happen ? Had he not till now 
been aware that much of modern Physiology 
rested upon experiment on animals while their 
structures, marvellous and complex, were 
capable of being observed in action? or was 

xviii Preface to Reprint of 

it that his sympathetic character was stirred 
by sudden impulse, so that he refused, as a 
Member of the University, to be personally 
responsible for that which his whole nature 
abhorred ? Is he wholly wrong ? The temper, 
perhaps, of the age replies, wholly. His voice 
for controversy is now silent. I have neither 
his speech nor his pen. But I write now at 
Brantwood, in the Holy Land, as it has been 
called, of Wordsworth; and looking back on 
the history of Ruskin's life and character, I 
am not surprised. 

It is a great error, however, to think of 
Ruskin as without scientific insight. He might 
have written Wordsworth's pregnant lines : 

'Yet do I exult, 

Casting reserve away, exult to see 
An intellectual mastery exercised 
O'er the blind elements ; a purpose given, 
A perseverance fed ; almost a soul 
Imparted to brute matter. I rejoice 
Measuring the force of those gigantic powers 
That, by the thinking mind, have been compelled 
To serve the will of feeble-bodied Man.' 

'The Oxford Museum* xix 

Still more would Ruskin have been disposed 
to sing : 

1 To every Form of being is assigned 
An active principle : however removed 
From sense and observation it subsists 
In all things, in all natures, in the stars 
Of azure heaven, the unenduring clouds, 
In flower and tree, in every pebbly stone 
That paves the brooks, the stationary rocks, 
The moving waters, and the invisible air. 
Whate'er exists hath properties that spread 
Beyond itself, communicating good, 
A simple blessing, or with evil mixed. 
Spirit that knows no insulated spot, 
No chasm, no solitude : from link to link 
It circulates, the soul of all the worlds. 
This is the freedom of the Universe, 
Unfolded still the more, more visible 
The more we know.' 

We can imagine Ruskin saying with Words- 
worth : c The poet . . . converses with general 
nature^ with affections akin to those which 
through labour and length of time the man of 
science has raised up in himself^ by conversing 
with those particular parts of Nature which 
are the objects of his studies/ 

But the whole nature of Ruskin resists the 
limited study of Nature which takes a part for 

xx Preface to Reprint of 

the whole, which studies the material structure 
of Man, forgetting the higher aspirations and 
properties for which that structure seems to 
exist on earth to bring him into communion 
with the Infinite and through the Infinite to 
the love of all things living with Man or for him. 

The affection which burns within him for 
the lowliest of men, he extends in their degree 
to all creatures that live and feel, while he 
dwells with keenest insight on the beauty 
and action and structure of all created things, 
bringing in more than one direction a vigour 
of language and of thought scarce ever rivalled, 
never surpassed. 

I was grieved (though I am aware many do 
not agree with me), in relation to the higher 
appreciation of Nature, when it was decided 
not to attach portions of the Botanical 
Gardens to the precincts of the Museum, 
bringing the living flora to illustrate and be 
illustrated by the extinct. I regretted also 
that the opportunity was lost for making 

'The Oxford Museum' xxi 

suitable arrangements, in the eighty acres then 
purchased^ for the study of such animals, 
whether in health or disease, as might main- 
tain a constant interest and delight in Life 
in action, in as many forms as could be 
conveniently displayed 1 . Life in action, with 
the habits thereto pertaining, is a study as 
worthy as is the machinery which makes, pre- 
serves, and brings it to a close. It is a fault 
in most museums that only the mechanism of 
life and not its living actions are displayed. 
Sir William Flower to some extent, and as far 
perhaps as London needs, has remedied this. 

These general thoughts may seem strange 
to those in Oxford who, from imperfect 

1 In the Appendix the Laboratories rebuilt or added 
to the Museum since its first erection are shown on a 
ground plan, namely, for the Departments of Physics, of 
Chemistry, of Physiology, of Comparative Anatomy, of 
Human Anatomy, of Geology, besides the Pitt-Rivers 
Museum and its work-rooms, and the Astronomical 
Observatory. More space is required, notably for the 
Radcliffe Library, a large Lecture Room, and the Hope 
Collections. The University can provide as many acres 
as from time to time are needed without detriment to 
the Parks. 

xxii Preface to Reprint of 

knowledge, desire to change the Museum into 
a so-called ( medical school/ They perhaps 
have not reflected on the loss that they will 
inflict on the Profession of Medicine if they 
succeed. Forty years ago it was hoped 
to add to the wide Philosophical, Historical, 
Theological life of the old University the means 
for similar study of the material Universe 
considered alike in its Unity and in its special 
parts. It was felt this would harmonize with, 
and supply, the missing link in the aims of the 
old education. The opportunities were to be 
open to all, for whatever walk in life destined. 
Adapt it only to one Profession such as Medi- 
cine, you rob all others of the larger oppor- 
tunity, and which is even worse persuade 
future Oxford graduates that Medicine has no 
relation to Science as a whole; that it is a 
specialism, grounded on itself alone, and that 
the essence of its education is to prepare by 
schedules for passing examinations. No greater 
educational fallacy can exist. To give colour 

'The Oxford Museum' xxiii 

to it is a cruelty to all our youth. Our best 
students already feel this to be so. The foun- 
dation by them of the Robert Boyle Lecture is a 
proof. Wider views are held by the best thinkers, 
even for our Elementary and Government 
Schools. The conception is a relic of days of 
ignorance. The function of the Oxford Museum 
towards Medicine is to train good scientific 
observers and thinkers, to become observers and 
thinkers in pathological and therapeutic and 
preventive processes. They will then, I hope, 
enter the vast field of disease which is seen in the 
great hospitals of the Metropolis, or other centres 
of large and diversely occupied populations, as 
broadly educated and really thoughtful men. 

May the reader forgive these truisms, re- 
peated after fifty years, in old age, but not 
without need ! The conception of Education 
in the last few years has been greatly extended 
among the masses ; their aims are no doubt in 
several respects more technical, but also more 
philosophical and literary. In the North of 

xxiv . Preface to Reprint of 

England and in Scotland, a miner or a ( mill- 
hand 5 may be now heard discussing Butler's 
Analogy, George Eliot, or Herbert Spencer, as 
they do portions of Roscoe, Tait, and Huxley. 
Biology, normal and abnormal, in its widest 
relations, is not absent from the Higher Schools 
or Colleges for young women, some of whom 
so trained will spend active lives in the 
administration of Hospitals and Workhouses 
with gifts intellectual and personal unknown 
till now. There is a great change in the 
influence of the Universities, whether for 
abstract or applied Science, whether theoretical 
or practical. The effects of University Exten- 
sion and of the Evening Classes under the New 
Code of Education on the national character 
of the masses can hardly as yet be foreseen. 
They have a manifest bearing also on the 
future of the deeper and higher education of 
the professional classes. To train well-educated 
men to be Science Teachers under County 
Councils and in Secondary Schools throughout 

Published by iieorge All? n. 15 6. Charing J.r oss R -. a .1 L >n Ion. 

1 The Oxford Museum ' xxv 

the Country, is an important and much needed 
function for Oxford. It will, moreover, open 
prospects for the highly-trained Graduates 
through the Natural Science Honour School, 
who are already increasing in number^ and are 
beginning to do much original work in the 
several Science Laboratories. 

More words from me are now unnecessary. 
I conclude therefore by here recording a 
message given me to-day at Brantwood by 
Mr. Ruskin, when he knew that the following 
Address on the Oxford Museum was to be 
again published, together with his Letters, 
after a separation of thirty years. 

' Say to my friends in the Oxford 
Museum from me, May God Uess the 
reverent and earnest study of Nature 
and of Man, to His glory, to the better 
teaching of the Future, to the benefit of 
bur Country, and to the good of all 



August 14, 1893. 

xxvi Preface to Reprint 

These pregnant words from the veteran 
friend of the Institute for the study of Nature 
in Oxford, are commended to the generations 
who will there use the opportunities, and 
advance the means, which he earnestly helped 
for many years to obtain for them. 




HP HE Oxford Museum slowly approaches 
completion. The building will shortly 
sink into insignificance when compared to the 
contents it will display, and the minds it 
will mould. 

The edifice will, however, stand as a record 
of loving labour, bestowed by a pure and 
refined artistic intelligence. It had the 
advantage of strong, but not unanimous, 
sympathy. It had not the command of an 
unlimited exchequer. 

Now its real work begins; we may hope 
that the country will year by year feel more 
clearly the value of its scientific training, when 
engrafted in its due measure into the general 
education of the Old University. 

xxviii Preface to the Second Edition 

The present edition gives the subjects of 
most of the carvings, the localities of the 
geological strata illustrated by the shafts,, lists 
of the statues erected, and of the statues which 
are yet desired. 

To the original remarks, at the expense, it is 
true, of chronological accuracy, there have now 
been added, here and there, descriptions which 
correspond to the progress of the building. 
This seemed preferable to retaining statements 
now inapplicable. 

H. W. A. 

June 15, 1860. 


following pages contain the substance 
of some remarks which were made to the 
members of the Architectural Societies, at their 
request, that met in Oxford in the summer of 
last year. Pressing duties have hindered me 
till now from committing to paper, as nearly 
as my memory serves me, the matter of what 
was then said. I am induced, however, thus 
tardily to comply with a request made by 
various persons, that these remarks should be 
printed, because visitors in Oxford frequently 
seek information similar to that which it was 
my aim then to furnish. 

It is, moreover, imperative on me to give 
the utmost publicity I can to the letters which 
Mr. Ruskin has addressed to me, the first in 

xxx Preface to the First Edition 

June last, and the second in January of this 
year, when I informed him I was about to print 
these remarks. It may seem presumptuous 
that I should couple my own name with his 
in a question which is partly one of Art; 
but we both feel pleasure in recording that, 
when fellow-undergraduates at Christ Church, 
we sketched together; and that, after a lapse 
of twenty years, we received on the same day 
the high distinction of an Honorary Student- 
ship ; because, though following divergent 
paths, we have honestly and laboriously culti- 
vated the Arts which we respectively profess. 
To the intercourse on Art, and many kindred 
subjects, which for more than twenty years I 
have had with Dr. Liddell, the present Dean of 
Christ Church, with John Ruskin, Charles 
Newton, and George Richmond, I owe many 
happy hours of rest in the midst of happy 
labour, and am little disposed to forego the 
right to seek recreation in this or any other 
reasonable manner, because I am a Physician. 

Preface to the First Edition xxxi 

On the contrary, I here declare that, though 
a man may be seduced from his duty, to his 
after misery, by any other absorbing interest, 
I yet believe that frequent intercourse with 
men engaged in other intellectual pursuits, is, 
in my profession at least, almost necessary to 
form a complete professional mind. I appeal 
to History in confirmation. 

But, on the other side, I should be deeply 
pained, if in consequence of the interest I 
profess in the Art of the Oxford Museum, it 
were supposed by any whose opinion I value, 
either that I consider Art a subject on which 
amateurs can have perfect judgement, or that 
it is a matter which a Physician can seriously 
pursue. Yet I am of opinion that it is the 
duty of all persons who can help true- 
hearted and earnest Artists in these days, to 
aid in protecting them against unjust depre- 
ciation in efforts which, from many causes in 
this century and in our country, are neces- 
sarily, among the best men, tentative. Many 

xxxii Preface to the First Edition 

have yet to learn the apparently simple truth, 
that to an Artist his Art is his means of proba- 
tion in this life; and that, whatever it may 
have of frivolity to us, to him it is as the two 
or the five talents, to be accounted for here- 
after. I might say much on this point, for 
the full scope of the word Art seems by some 
to be even now unrecognised. Before the 
period of printing, Art was the largest mode 
of permanently recording human thought; it 
was spoken in every epoch, in all countries, 
and delivered in almost every material. In 
buildings, on medals and coins, in porcelain 
and earthenware, on wood, ivory, parchment, 
paper and canvas, the graver or the pencil has 
recorded the ideas of every form of society, of 
every variety of race and of every character. 
What wonder that the Artist is jealous of his 
craft, and proud of his brotherhood ? But 
as I hope that the time draws nigh when 
the professorial staff of Oxford will include 
a Professor of Art, I had better desist, and 

Preface to the First Edition xxxiii 

leave the matter in his hands. With the 
Art of this building, at all events, I have 
nothing whatever to do, except earnestly to 
aid in giving fair play and full opportunity 
to the eminently skilful persons, Deane and 
Woodward, who are now executing the work. 
For me and my fellow-teachers there, it is a 
place of other work altogether ; and were it not 
that, as a Professor, I owe duty in this thing to 
the University, as a Physician, I might regret 
every moment I had ever expended in aiding 
the architects in the Art part of their under- 
taking. In the department of Natural Science 
and of Medicine there is far too much yet to 
be done in this place, to allow any one, who 
is connected with them and has a choice in the 
matter, either time or energy for other occu- 
pations, unless by change they bring him the 
rest he needs. Like all other ancient things, 
Medicine is undergoing a stern cross-exami- 
nation; it is learning more and more that, 
without depending wholly on positive science 

xxxiv Preface to the First Edition 

for its practical Art, a thing which never can 
be, it can no longer go on without every aid 
that science can afford; and therefore its dis- 
ciples will all welcome such a building as is 
the subject of this Lecture, because it bids 
fair in a few years to disseminate widely, 
among a class of influential persons not hitherto 
reached, a knowledge of physiological truth 
and the truths of nature in general : because 
also it will help to keep before many of our 
most cultivated minds and our most influential 
thinkers, the principles of sanitary knowledge 
in all its branches. I may not here dilate on 
this great national question ; but they who look 
ahead will see, without aid from my pen, what 
mutual benefits will accrue from a closer union 
of the Sciences at the root of Medicine with the 
old Universities ; and will further perceive that 
for the well-being of those very Sciences, the 
Practical Art which is in one sense their highest 
goal, must live, and make itself heard in its own 
peculiar notes, and strange, unwritten speech. 

Preface to the First Edition xxxv 

I must not, however, allow myself now to 
describe the full scope and prospects of an edu- 
cational institution, such as this Museum ; and 
yet I cannot bring to a close a preface already 
too long for a description which is too short, 
without repeating words which I ventured to 
use ten years ago * on this subject : 

'With respect to the proposal to add some 
study of the fundamental arrangements of the 
natural world to the general education of the 
place, I fear that if we do not add it, we may 
live to see, what would be a great national 
evil, such knowledge substituted for our pre- 
sent system/ 

The addition has been made; the substitu- 
tion is, I hope, averted. The further my 
observation has extended, the more satisfied I 
am that no knowledge of things will supply the 
place of the early study of Letters 'literae 

1 See page 39 of ' Eemarks on the Extension of Educa- 
tion in the University of Oxford.' Oxford : J. H. Parker. 


C 2 

xxxvi Preface to the First Edition 

humaniores/ Recent changes in the French 
Universities fully confirm this opinion. I do 
not doubt the value of any honest mental 
labour. Indeed, since the material working 
of the Creator has been so far displayed to 
our gaze, it is both dangerous and full of 
impiety to resist its ennobling influence, even 
on the ground that His moral work is greater. 
But notwithstanding this, the study of lan- 
guage, of history, and of the thoughts of great 
men, which they exhibit, seems to be almost 
necessary (as far as learning is necessary at 
all) for disciplining the heart, for elevating the 
soul, and for preparing the way for the growth 
in the young, of their personal spiritual life : 
while, on the other side, the best corrective 
to pedantry in scholarship, and to conceit in 
mental philosophy, is the study of the facts and 
laws exhibited by Natural Science. 

Feb. 1, 1859. 


TTTHEN a critic in Art approaches an 
architectural edifice, he asks, first, to 
what uses is this building destined ? next, 
how far does it in a skilful manner inter- 
weave beauty with convenience of arrange- 
ment ? and how far, subjected to the imposed 
conditions of climate, site, and accessibility 
of materials, does it express the object for 
which it was intended? 

You, therefore, who come as critics, ask 
three things, and in answer, I will endeavour 
to state: 

i st. The circumstances which in the history 
of Oxford made this effort for enlarging her 
means of education necessary. 

2ndly. The objects which those members of 

2 Necessity for Extended Education 

the University who for many years advocated 
this design have steadily kept in view. 

3rdly. The way in which the Architects 
have performed the task assigned to them. 

In other words, it is my duty to relate why 
extension of our buildings was necessary; 
what is the object of that extension ; and 
what was the spirit in which the required 
building has been erected. 

FIRST, then, as to the causes which called 
for extension of the national education at 
Oxford in the direction of Natural Science. 
These must be briefly stated. 

The great tide of human thought had set 
for centuries, and down even to the close of 
the Middle Ages, chiefly in the direction 
of speculative reasoning, poetry, or history. 
Many circumstances in the condition of the 
world tended to repress the outbreak of in- 
quiring and eager interest in external Nature, 
which about the time of the discovery of the 

Narrow-mindedness in Studies 3 

New World dawned upon all the educated 
part of mankind. It is not other than both 
remarkable and humiliating, that some of those 
who studied and taught the mental science 
of Aristotle, or the speculative dogmas of the 
schoolmen, should have wholly forgotten the 
successful energy which Aristotle and Galen, 
in the very dawn of literature, had expended 
on investigating the laws of organic life. It 
is probable, indeed, that the very condition 
of the Church in the Middle Ages, which led 
men to study the Bible less and value their 
own fancies more, did, in fact, close their eyes 
to the astonishing revelations of the unwritten 
as well as of the written Word of God. 

Oxford, f the ancient seat of learning,' was 
not exempt from this intellectual one-sidedness. 
It chiefly cultivated classic lore, and pursued 
the metaphysical notions of the schoolmen; 
even these were not always taught in the 
far-seeing spirit of true philosophy. It has 

4 Slow Growth of Wider Studies 

taken some centuries from the epoch of Roger 
Bacon, followed here by Boyle, Harvey, Lin- 
acre, and Sydenham, besides nearly 200 years 
of unbroken publication of the Royal Society's 
Transactions, to persuade this great English 
University to engraft, as a substantial part of 
the education of her youth, any knowledge of 
the great material design of which the Supreme 
Master- Worker has made us a constituent part. 
c The study of mankind/ indeed, was f Man'; 
but in Oxford it was Man viewed apart from 
all those external circumstances and conditions 
by which his probation on earth was made by 
his Maker possible, and through whose agency, 
for good or evil, his life here, and preparation 
for life hereafter, were ordained. 

Seeing, then, all these things, many here 
in Oxford, not so much by concert, as by 
that strange unanimity which comes to some 
subjects in the fulness of their time, felt as 
by an instinct, that they might not rest until 

Yearning for Material Knowledge 5 

means for rightly studying what is vouchsafed 
for man to know of this universe were accorded 
to the youth committed to their care, and to 
themselves. From such causes, and from so deep 
convictions, has arisen the Oxford Museum. 

Nor was the present an inappropriate or 
unexpected time for a work conceived in this 
temper. Oxford possessed more than the 
current knowledge of the day; and the light 
which had been brought so multifariously to 
bear on Nature, by many great minds in 
Europe, from Bacon to Cuvier, had been 
specially imparted to us in the first half of 
this century. Partly by oral instruction from 
Kidd, Buckland, Daubeny, Walker, the two 
Duncans, and many others, both in their 
several lecture-rooms, and within the walls 
of old Elias Ashmole ; and partly, I must 
add, by the various enlightened acts and 
wise expenditure of the Radcliffe Trustees. 
They many years since devoted their library 

6 Care for the Future 

entirely to works on Medicine and Natural 
History, expending large sums, restricted only 
by the little fruit they bore; they have also, 
by the development of a first-class Observatory, 
and especially through the labours of Manuel 
Johnson, added new lustre to the University 
of Halley, and Bradley, and Gregory. 

To enlarge, however, on all the details of 
this progress would be now of little interest. 
We look more to the future than to the past. 
Thankful for the benefits we have inherited, 
and jealous of the honour of our fathers, we, 
as practical men, take still deeper interest in 
the destiny of our children, desiring that 
we leave them not worse provided in the gifts 
of their age, than by God's mercy and the 
foreseeing nobleness of our forefathers, we 
found ourselves in those of our own. 

You ask, in the SECOND place, What objects 
have the promoters of the Museum kept in 
view while advocating its erection ? 

What is Natural History ? 7 

f There are two books/ says Sir T. Browne, 
' from which I collect my divinity ; besides that 
written one of God, another of His servant, 
Nature, that universal and public manuscript 
that lies expansed unto the eyes of all/ In 
this term e Nature' are, of course, included 
every known and observed form of matter by 
which our world and its inhabitants were 
either made or are maintained, and whatever 
laws of their construction or for their main- 
tenance have by reason been inferred. No 
less signification of the word Nature will in 
the present day be accepted; the limitation 
of the term History of Nature to a small 
portion of the biological sciences is not now, 
of course, admitted. But even this explana- 
tion does not adequately express the idea of 
the word Nature; the word implies not only 
the facts and the laws that have been noted 
in the structure and peopling of the globe, 
but still more, the relation which all those 

8 Divisions in Natural History Studies 

facts and laws bear to each other, in one 
harmonious whole ; and yet one step further,, 
in some limited instances, the first glimpses 
of unuttered ideas traces (as some believe), 
though we see them darkly as in a mirror, 
of unexpressed Art of the great Artificer. 

To state the divisions which have been 
found necessary or convenient for the pur- 
poses of student or teacher in this vast in- 
quiry, is to enumerate the principal sciences 
belonging to the History of Nature, and 
therefore the departments to which, in the 
Museum, places are assigned. In these 
departments there are many sub-divisions; 
some of which are themselves already erected 
into great and comprehensive subjects. They 
cannot all be separately represented here ; for 
this educational institution is not the effort 
of a great government, nor the exhibition of 
the scientific collections of a nation, but an 
abstract, as it were, fitted for the grasp of 

The Stars ; the Earth 9 

a single person, or a standing-point, from 
whence the intelligent learner may take a 
general survey of a great field of knowledge, 
which, be his powers what they may, in his 
lifetime he can never completely investigate. 

Our object, then, is ist, to give the learner 
a general view of the planet on which he lives, 
of its constituent parts, and of the relations 
which it occupies as a world among worlds; 
and 2ndly, to enable him to study, in the 
most complete scientific manner, and for any 
purpose, any detailed portion which his powers 
qualify him to grasp. 

The Astronomer, with his apparatus, may 
here introduce the student to the phenomena 
observed in that space of which we occupy 
an infinitesimal portion, and may explain 
the means and the powers by which these 
phenomena have been observed and can be 
predicted. The Professor of Geometry will be 
able to aid the further explanation of those 

io The General Laws of Nature 

abstruse calculations, bringing his knowledge 
to bear upon terrestrial as well as cosmical 
instances. In the department of Experimental 
Physics, the student will, guided by his teacher, 
submit to experiment (as far as they obey the 
hand or bend to the skill of man), the most 
general agents and powers, which are either 
diffused through space, such as light ; or are 
daily but universally needed in the organic 
or inorganic changes of our earth, as water 
and air. The Higher Mathematical truths 
upon which the theories of Experimental 
Physics depend, can be pursued by him in 
the class-room of the Professor of Natural 
Philosophy. Scarcely removed from these 
departments, he may next examine in the 
Chemical laboratories those endless changes, 
which nature in her ordinary course, or the 
skill of man by contrived combinations, may 
bring about in the matter of which this earth 
is composed, a department which has severed 

Life on the Earth n 

from itself, more for convenience than by 
reason, its special school of Mineralogy. So, 
insensibly, but well prepared, he will approach, 
in the Geological collections and afterwards 
among the rocks themselves, the study of the 
development of the earth, the history of the 
convulsions by which it has attained its 
present form, the way in which its surface 
is disposed, and, by necessity, the characters, 
structure, life, origin, and decay, of its past 
and present inhabitants. 

Without the Geologist on one side, and 
the Anatomist and Physiologist on the other, 
Zoology is not worthy of its name. The 
student of life, bearing in mind the more 
general laws which in the several departments 
above named he will have sought to appre- 
ciate, will find in the collections of Zoology, 
combined with the Geological specimens and 
the dissections of the Anatomist, a boundless 
field of interest and of inquiry, to which 

12 Relations of Living Beings 

almost every other science lends its aid : from 
each Science he borrows a special light to 
guide him through the ranges of extinct and 
existing animal forms, from the lowest up to 
the highest type, which; last and most per- 
fect, but pre-shadowed in previous ages, is 
seen in Man. By the aid of physiological 
illustrations he begins to understand how hard 
to unravel are the complex mechanisms and 
prescient intentions of the Maker of all; and 
he slowly learns to appreciate what exquisite 
care is needed for discovering the real action 
of even an apparently comprehended machine. 
And so at last, almost bewildered, but not 
cast down, he attempts to scrutinize, in the 
rooms devoted to Medicine, the various in- 
juries which man is doomed to undergo in 
his progress towards death; he begins to 
revere the beneficent contrivances which shine 
forth in the midst of suffering and disease, 
and to veil his face before the mysterious 

Disease 13 

alterations of structure, to which there seem 
'attached pain, with scarce relief, and a steady 
advance, without a check, to death. He will 
look, and as he looks, will cherish hope, not 
unmixed with prayer, that the great Art of 
Healing may by all these things advance, and 
that by the progress of profounder science, 
by the spread among the people of the 
resultant practical knowledge, by stricter 
obedience to physiological laws, by a conse- 
quent more self-denying spirit, some disorders 
may at a future day be cured, which cannot 
be prevented, and some, perhaps, prevented, 
which never can be cured. 

These, then, are the departments to which 
we assign, for mutual aid, and easy inter- 
change of reference and comparison, a com- 
mon habitation under one roof : Astronomy, 
Geometry, Experimental Physics, with their 
Mathematics ; Chemistry, Mineralogy, Geo- 
logy, Zoology, Anatomy, Physiology, Medicine. 

14 Cost of the Oxford Museum 

In the THIRD place, you must consider the 
way in which the Architects have provided 
for these wants. 

It is quite unnecessary to describe more 
particularly the steps by which we obtained 
the design which you have come to criticize, 
and which is here brought to a practical 
result, than by saying generally, that the 
Professors of the subjects which have been 
named, having decided on the space which each 
required for satisfying (I am bound to say 
in the most limited manner consistent with 
efficiency) their several wants, the University 
decided on allowing a grant of 30,000 for 
the shell of the building, leaving to future 
determination its interior fittings and various 
incidental expenses, as warming, lighting, 
draining, planting, fencing, and the like. In 
the competition, scarce any limitation was 
imposed, and to style none. Thirty-two de- 
signs by anonymous contributors were sent 

Difficulties of the Architects 15 

in. They were in all styles. Some professed 
advocates of Gothic architecture on this occa- 
sion deprecated the application of Gothic Art 
to secular purposes, thereby denying to their 
own style that malleability which is, perhaps, 
its highest prerogative. But at length the 
design Nisi Dominus aedificaverit domum 
was selected. It turned out to be by the 
architects of the Dublin Museum. I have 
seen no reason to regret the decision of the 

It is but just to the Architect and to the 
University, to say to you at once, that the 
task has been a difficult one. The University 
granted a sum, which was perhaps the most 
it could, in justice to other departments, 
afford for the proposed purpose ; the sum 
was well known to be barely sufficient to raise 
a building of the cubical contents which the 
Professors required for their several depart- 
ments; and therefore it must be admitted 
D 2 

1 6 The Architects' Scrupulous Care 

at once, that, without blame to either party, 
there is on all sides evidence, both in material 
and design, of a rigorously restrained expen- 
diture, just as in respect of material and finish 
the direct contrary may be noticed in another 
structure, recently built for the University 
by my esteemed friend Mr. Cockerell, the 
Taylor Institution. 

Once for all on the subject of cost, a 
consideration of the utmost importance in the 
relation between employers and employed in 
the matter of building, I am happy here to 
record that it is within my personal know- 
ledge that extraordinary and unsparing pains 
have been taken by Woodward and Deane, 
to produce, often with great additional labour 
to themselves, the almost impossible combina- 
tion of artistic effect and complete convenience, 
with most limited means. 

You who bring critical faculties and a 
knowledge of building to bear on the subject, 

Grounds for Choice of Style 17 

need scarcely be told what is here stated. 
It is only to be greatly regretted that a 
contrary opinion should have been expressed, 
due in part to ignorance of facts, and in 
part, more unfortunately still, to one or two 
accidental miscalculations in constructing 
estimates for extra work, as well as to an 
error in the calculated elasticity of wrought- 
iron supports to the roof. 

No Physician will probably be heard on 
the subject of Art, so that it were waste of 
time, both to you and to me, to express, 
even if I hold them, many opinions on this 
matter; but still, as one of those appointed 
by the University to select a design, it was 
my duty to satisfy myself on certain salient 
principles, of which I will state two. 

First, that in the selection of a style for 
a scientific building, the first consideration 
with me was its practical fitness for its 
purpose ; that, in this respect of capacity of 

i8 Laws of Gothic 

adaptation to any given wants, Gothic has 
no superior in any known form of Art, of any 
period or country; that this being so, it is, 
upon the whole, the best suited to the general 
architectural character of mediaeval Oxford. 

Secondly, that supposing Gothic to be 
adopted, it must in all respects adapt itself 
to the necessities of the departments ; in no 
way impose its Art to the hindrance of our 
convenience ; it must confine its ornaments 
to subjects more or less connected with the 
objects of the building, as the Middle Age 
architects confined their ecclesiastical decora- 
tions in sacred edifices; it must be willing to 
use whatever material the skill of modern ages 
has placed at the disposal of the builder ; and 
the arrangements of various kinds should not, 
on account of Gothic associations, be inferior 
in mechanical skill or other convenience, to 
the forms or methods now in general use. 

Believing in these principles, I think the 

Arrangements of the Building 19 

University was right in adopting Woodward 
and Deane's design. I will not indulge myself 
further on this topic, nor detain you with 
speculations on Gothic Art; an old college 
friend, and a very different hand, will presently 
do this in the letter which I shall read to you. 
It remains only, therefore, to describe the 

general plan by which the union has been 
effected between the professorial demands 
and financial conditions on the one hand, 
and the requirements of Gothic Architecture, 
as interpreted by a refined and almost fas- 
tidious artist, on the other. 

A few words will explain the principles 
which determined the kind of accommodation. 

For the illustration of Nature the student 
requires four things : first, the work-room, 
where he may practically see and work for 
himself ; secondly, the lecture-room, where 
he may see and be taught that which by 
himself he can neither see nor learn, and, as 

20 Construction of Central Courf 

an adjunct to these, a room for more private 
study for each ; thirdly, general space for the 
common display of any illustrative specimens 
capable of preservation, so placed, in relation 
to the rest of the building, as to be convenient 
for reference and comparison between all the 
different branches ; and, lastly, a library, in 
which whatever has been done, or is now doing, 
in the science of this and other periods and 
countries, may be conveniently ascertained. 

The centre of the edifice, which is intended 
to contain the Collections, consists of a quad- 
rangle. This large area is covered by a glass 
roof, supported on cast-iron columns. The 
ornaments of the spandrels (due to the 
admirable skill of Mr. Skid more of Coventry) 
are in wrought-iron. The rigid (cast) material 
supports the vertical pressure; the malleable 
(wrought) iron is employed for the ornament, 
and is chiefly hand-wrought. The present roof 
is the second that has been erected. It had 

Ironwork 21 

been believed that a departure could be safely 
made from the original designs of Deane and 
Woodward for the sake of lightness of form ; 
and that for the same reason the supports 
might be made of wrought-iron tubes. This 
experiment failed, and a structure on the 
general principle of the original design has 
replaced the attempt. Some persons will 
probably regret that when the new roof was 
erected, it was hopeless for the Architects to 
propose, as they would have wished, the sub- 
stitution of stone shafts, few in number, to 
support the roof. A step, but not a finalstep, 
has been made towards an harmonious union 
of the ironwork of the nineteenth century with 
the refined architecture of the Middle Ages. 

The wrought-iron ornaments represent, in 
the large spandrels that occupy the inter- 
spaces between the arches of the principal 
aisles, large interwoven branches, with leaf 
and flower and fruit, of lime, chesnut, 

22 Arcades of the Central Court 

sycamore, walnut, palm, and other trees and 
shrubs, of native or of exotic growth; and 
in various parts of the lesser decorations, in 
the capitals, and nestled in the trefoils of 
the girders, leaves of elm, brier, water-lily, 
passion-flower, ivy, holly, and many others, 
which hereafter a catalogue will enumerate. 

The central court is surrounded by an open 
arcade of two stories. This arcade furnishes 
ready means of communication between the 
several departments and their collections in 
the area. The roof springs from above the 
upper arcade, so that the arcades on both 
floors are open to the covered court. 

The arcade on the ground-floor is entered 
from the centre of each side of the court, and 
ready communication is made from it to every 
part of the collection. In each of the arcades 
are seven piers forming eight openings, and 
carrying eight discharging arches, within which 
are two lesser arches, resting on their outer 

Arcades of the Central Court 23 

sides on the piers, and at their junction with 
each other on a shaft with a capital and base. 

On the upper story there is a similar 
arrangement, excepting only that the piers 
and shafts are of less height, though the 
piers are of the same number ; on this account, 
in the same horizontal space between each 
pier, four arches are supported by three shafts 
in the upper arcade, instead of as below, two 
arches supported at their union by one shaft. 

There are, on the ground-floor, thirty- 
three piers and thirty shafts on the upper 
floor, thirty-three piers and ninety-five shafts. 
Thus one hundred and twenty-five shafts 
surround the court ; and if we include the 
capitals and bases of the piers, there are one 
hundred and ninety-one capitals and bases 1 . 

The shafts have been carefully selected, 

1 The number of shafts and piers on the side by which 
you enter, differs from the other three sides : hence the 
uneven numbers. 

24 The Shafts are Geological Illustrations 

under the direction of the Professor of Geology, 
from quarries which furnish examples of many 
of the most important rocks of the British 
Islands. On the lower arcade are placed, on the 
west side, the granitic series ; on the east, the 
metamorphic ; on the north, calcareous rocks, 
chiefly from Ireland ; on the south, the marbles 
of England. In the upper floor, as far as may 
be, an analogous distribution is adopted 1 . 

In a table which follows, the kind of rocks, 
their localities, and the carvings which accom- 
pany them, are noticed. The visitor having 
completed the circuit of the ground-floor, may 
ascend by the south staircase to the upper floor, 
and pass round to the right, examining the 
columns from the south-west angle, that which 
he meets at the head of the southern stairs. 

1 Further particulars of these shafts, and of the 
arrangements of the plants represented in the capitals, 
are given in an admirable letter for which I am indebted 
to Professor PHILLIPS. See p. 91. For the statues already 
erected see p. 102. 

Sculptures of Animals and Plants 25 

The capitals and bases represent various 
groups of plants and animals, illustrating 
different climates and various epochs. They 
are mainly arranged according to their natural 
orders, and are the more required to repre- 
sent the vegetable creation, as the botanical 
collections will remain, very prooerly, at the 
Botanical Gardens. 

On massive corbels, projecting from the 
fronts of the piers, there are placed the statues 
of great men who first discovered, or first 
brought to important results, the several 
branches of knowledge which the edifice is 
intended to promote. As those who have laid 
the deepest and widest the foundations of 
science, Aristotle and Bacon are set up at the 
portal, the one given by Her Majesty the 
Queen, the other by Undergraduates of Oxford. 
In the mathematical department is placed 
Leibnitz; in the astronomical, Newton, Gali- 
leo ; in that of physics, Oersted ; in the 

26 Statues of Great Discoverers 

chemical, Davy, Priestley; in that of zoology 
and botany, Linnaeus ; in that of medicine, 
Hippocrates, Harvey; in that of applied 
mechanics, Watt. These all are already set 
here for the contemplation and example of all 
who may hereafter enter, with various purpose, 
this place of study and of work. 

But the history of Science even by its most 
conspicuous landmarks is not to be sketched 
without many more names than these. We 
desire to set before the visitor the statue of 
Descartes ; to recall to all comers the memory 
of Euclid and Lagrange among mathema- 
ticians ; of Hipparchus and Kepler among 
astronomers ; of Archimedes, Roger Bacon, 
Robert Boyle, Franklin, Young, among physic- 
ists; of Lavoisier and Stahl among chemists; 
of Hutton and Werner among geologists ; of 
Ray, Jussieu, and Humboldt among zoologists 
and botanists ; of Hunter and Haller, of 
Sydenham and Harvey among those who have 

Her Majesty's Gifts 27 

most advanced physiology and medicine; of 
George Stephenson, who added railways to the 
practical mechanics of the world. 

Here I must not omit to record that the ex- 
pression in the architecture, by this simple and 
happy method, of the intentions of the build- 
ing, was engrafted upon it as the work went 
on, and was not (I need hardly say) included in 
the first design, or in the original estimate. All 
this has since been added by the zealous muni- 
ficence of many friends of our undertaking. 

I may be excused for here repeating a public 
fact. Her Majesty QUEEN VICTORIA was made 
acquainted with the circumstance that these 
statues could be erected only by private gift : 
a hope was expressed that if Her Majesty 
thought fit to set an example to contributors, 
she would choose as her donation the first of 
the great school of modern science, himself 
an Englishman, Francis Lord Bacon. In 
reply, the royal, and, more also, the kindly 

28 Her Majesty's Gifts 

announcement reached the University, that 
not Bacon only, but the four great names that 
followed next on the proposed list of dis- 
coverers, should be executed by Her Majesty's 
command and at her own costs. And I know 
not but that this gracious act was enhanced 
in value, when it was made known by the 
Chancellor on the same occasion on which 
the Queen's gift was publicly announced, that 
the Undergraduates had offered to erect the 
monuments to Aristotle and Cuvier. 

They who desire to examine in detail the 
shafts and the illustrative carvings, should 
proceed from the entrance to the right, as far 
as the angle, and then return to the north- 
ward. They will thus follow the Rocks as 
Professor Phillips has placed them, and will 
have the names of the Plants which have 
been represented in natural groups, more 
or less idealized, or literally copied, by the 

Lower Corridor, West and North Sides 29 


(West side, going North). 


Gray granite, Aber- 

Red granite, Peter- 

Porphyritic gray 
granite, from La- 
morna (Corn wall) . 

Syenite, from Cham- 
wood Forest. 

Mottled granite of 

Red granite of Ross 
in Mull. 


The corbels marked c. 
c. Sagittaria sagittifolia. 
' AlismacecB Alisma Plantago. 

c. Alisma ranunculoides. 
I c. Limnocharis. 

Butomacece < Butomus umbellatus. 
( c. Limnocharis. 
( c. Fan-palm. 
Palmacece < Date-palm. 
( c. Fan- palm. 

!c. Phoenix. 
C. Caryota. 
!c. Tradescantia. 
Colchicum and Pontederia. 
c. Dracaena, 
c. Yucca. 

Lillacece Lilium, Tulipa, Fritillaria. 
c. Aloe. 

LOWER ARCADE (North side, going East). 

Devonian lime- 
stone, from Tor- 


King's County. 

Green serpentine, 

( c. Sagittaria. 

Pandanacece < Pandanus (screw-pine). 
( c. Cyclamen. 
( c. Typha. 

Typhacece < Sparganium ramosum. 
( c. Typha. 
( c. Arum, Pothos. 
Aracece < Dracunculus vulgaris, 
( 0. Caladium. 
( c. Pothos. 

Acoracece < Calla u3Ethiopica. 
( c. Orontium. 


30 The Lower Corridor, East Side 


Green serpentine, 

Mountain limestone, 
co. Limerick. 

Mountain limestone, 

Devonian limestone, 
St. Mary Church. 

The corbels marked c. 
( c. Papyrus. 

Cyperacece < Cyperus rigidus. 
( c. Cladium. 
f c. Bronms. 

I Wheat, barley, oats, In- 
dian corn, and sugar- 
cane (with sparrows). 
C. Rice and canary-grass, 
with buntings, canaries, 
and quails. 
C. Platycerium. 
Acrostichum aureum. 
C. Adiantum. 
f c. Hart's tongue, Lastraea 


J Ferus, Scolopendrium vul- 
1 gare, Bleclmum boreale, 

Lastrsea, Filix mas. 
[ c. Mallow. 

G-raminece \ 


LOWER ARCADE (East side, going South). 

Trap rock, Killer- 
ton, Devon. 

Elvan rock of Tre- 

Schorlaceous rock, 

Serpentine (Corn- 

Serpentine (Corn- 

c. Cycas revoluta. 
Zamiacece Dion edule. 

c. Cycas revoluta. 
( C. Encephalartos. 
Zamiacece < Zamia horrida. 

( c. Encephalartos. 

!c. Wellingtonia. 
Thuja siberica. 
C. Sequoia sempervirens. 
!c. Stone-pine. 
Abies excelsa. 
c. Cluster-pine. 
ic. Araucaria Cunninghami , 
Araucaria imbricata. 
c. Araucaria Braziliensis. 

The Lower Corridor, South Side 31 

Porphyry, Inverara. 

Schorlaceous por- 
phyritic rock, St. 

Black serpentine 

The corbels marked c, 
( C. Dacrydium. 
Taxacece j Taxus baccata. 
( C. Salisburia. 
( o. Smilax aspera. 
Smilacece < Smilax sarsaparilla. 

( c. Smilax pseudochina. 

!c. Small-leaved bryony. 
Black bryony (tamus). 
c. Elephant's foot. 

LOWEK AECADE (South side, going West). 

Gypsum, Chellas- 

Mountain limestone, 

Mountain limestone, 


C. Epidendron cochleatum ? 
Dendrobium calceolaria, 
c. Cypripedium (lady's 

Musacece < Musa. 

( c. Strelitzia. 

c. Maranta bicolor. 
Marantacece Maranta. 

c. Heliconia. 

Breccia, Mendip. 


Zingiberacece \ Alpinia nutans. 

Green serpentine, 

[ 0. Broad-leaved ginger. 
( c. 

Mona or Angle- 

Iridacece < Iris germanica. 


( 0. Gladiolus. 

Hotwells, Bristol. 


I c. Narcissus macleagii. 
Narcissus pseudonarcissus. 

. c. Narcissus aurantiaca. 

Mountain limestone 

Amarylli- ( a Vallota purpurea. 
dacece i Am aryllis Johnsoni. 
f c. Leucoium. 

Mountain limestone 
of Dent, York- 


C. Pine-apple. 

Ananassa sativa. 


C. Lilium lancifolium. 

E 2 

32 Upper Corridor, West and North Sides 


(West side, going North). 

Augitic porphyry, Aberdeen- 

Ked granite, Peterhead. 
Gray granite, Aberdeen. 
Porphyry, Scotland. 
Schorl rock, Cornwall. 
Porphyry, Scotland. 
Serpentine, Lizard. 
Granite, Lamorna. 
Serpentine, Lizard. 
Schorlaceous rock, Cornwall. 
Granite, St. Just. 

Schorlaceous rock, Cornwall. 

Granite, Cornwall. 

Porphyritic granite, Cornwall. 


Porphyritic granite, Cornwall. 


Granite, Carnmoor, Cornwall. 



Porphyry, Loch Tay. 

Elvan, Cornwall. 

Schorlaceous granite, Cornwall. 

UPPEK ARCADE (North side, going East). 

From Armagh. 


,, Armagh. 



Green serpentine, Connemara. 
From Donegal. 
Green serpentine, Connemara. 

From Cork. 
, Cork. 

From Armagh. 







,, Tullamore. 


, Tullamore. 

Upper Corridor, East and South Sides 33 

UPPER ARCADE (East side, going South). 

From Mansfield. \ 

Mansfield. > Permian. 


,, Portland. 

Stamford. Oolite. 

Slate. , 

Slate. [ Wales. 
Slate. ) 

Granite, from Jersey. 

Galloway granite. 
Cornish granite. 
Galloway granite. 
Oolite, from Ketton. 
Blue lias. 
White lias. 
Purbeck marble. 

Purbeck marble. 
Chellaston, gypsum. 
From Mendip, breccia. 
Anston, dolomite. 

UPPER ARCADE (South side, going West). 

From Torquay. 
Mountain limestone 1 . 
From Mary Church. 

,, South Wales. 

Menai . 

South Wales. 


Mountain limestone. 
From Mona. 


,, Derbyshire. 



From Menai, black. 


Frosterley, Durham. 

,, Plymouth. 



Dent, Yorkshire. 

Garsdale, Yorkshire. 



,, Oreton, Salop. 

Mary Church, Devon. 

The locality is not known. 

34 Words on the Walls 

Several offers have been made to place in- 
scriptions in carving or in colour on the walls 
of the corridors, in the libraries, or in the 
several departments. How curiously instruc- 
tive some of these might be ! Take two for 
example, in the Medical Department this, 
quaint saying and pregnant rebuke recorded 
by Stobaeus : 

" Tp6(pi\os larpos epanTjOeis, TLS av yei/oiro re'Xeios larpos' 
'O TO. Sward, ^(prj, KCU TO. p,fj dvvara Swdpfvos diayiyvdxTKfiv." 

' Trophilus the physician being asked who is a per- 
fect physician, gave answer, "He who distinguishes 
between what can, and what cannot be done ".' 

Then the weighty, but half-known words 
with which Hippocrates solemnly begins his 

" C O /3i'or ftpaxvs, f) 8e re^vr] paicpr), 6 Se Kaipos ovs, f] 8e 
nelpa <r(paXepr), f) dc Kpiats xaXfTrq." 

' Life is short ; 


Art long ; 

Opportunities fleeting; 
Experience deceitful; 
True judgement difficult.' 

Words on the Walls 35 

Or the saying of Sir Thomas Browne 
'NATURE is the ART of GOD.' 

Shall we add, with perhaps new signifi- 

' Ipsi peribunt, Tu autem permanes : et omnes sicut 
vestimentum veterascent.' 

Great hopes are entertained that means will 
be obtained for painting in fresco the brick 
spandrels now left bare for this purpose in the 
area ; and that then, in subordinated harmony 
to the general effect, the colouring of the iron- 
work may be attempted, and the present 
temporary greys rectified. Many of the rooms 
are already coloured, and serve as an illus- 
tration of cheap and simple, yet artistic 
decoration. One room has been illustrated by 
a large geological painting of the Mer de 
Glace, and by one of the lava streams of 
Vesuvius; these are due to the leisure hours 
of a parochial clergyman, the Rev. R. St. John 

36 The several Departments 

Tyrwhitt. Ample wall-space awaits similar 
industry, and, we will hope, as successful 

Round the arcade is ranged upon three sides 
the main block of the building. The east is 
wisely left unencumbered by rooms, to afford 
ready means for future extension : land has been 
purchased, which will admit of such extension 
whenever it is required. I may not describe 
the main block in detail; you can visit such 
departments as you think fit. The most com- 
plete and largest is that of Chemistry, because 
the practical work of that extensive subject is 
likely to be here most extensively carried on. 
To every department is attached a lecture- 
room, a private room, and, wherever required, 
work-rooms and laboratories. 

The order in which the departments are 
reached is on the right of the entrance the 
department of Chemistry ; on the south side, 
first the Physical, next the Mineralogical and 

Contents of the Area 37 

Geological rooms; to the left of the entrance 
the rooms devoted to Medicine; on the north 
the rooms for the Delegates and the Keeper, 
and the Physiological establishment. 

The Area itself will contain the typical 
illustrations for study, viz. in the South Aisle, 
such as may be thought proper for display by 
the Professors of Mathematics, Astronomy,, 
and Physics. Mineralogical specimens and 
Chemical substances will also be arranged in 
this quarter. 

The great Central Aisle will show Palaeon- 
tological collections ; and we of Oxford may 
hope the memory of BUCKLAND will long 
cling to the treasures his energy collected 
and his genius illuminated. 

The remaining space to the North will be 
devoted to the Ashmolean collections in 
Zoology, and to the Physiological series 
which the enlightened liberality of Dean 
Liddell and the Chapter of Christ Church 

38 Lecture-rooms, Laboratories, 

have allowed to be removed thither for the 
public convenience and instruction. 

Beyond or outside the main block, to the 
north, because the coolest side, are the Ana- 
tomical and Zoological departments, with an 
open yard, and beyond it, Dissecting-rooms. 
On the south side, are the rooms which require 
special arrangements for experiments on light ; 
a yard for purposes connected with Chemistry 
and Experimental Physics; and further still, 
out-buildings, containing workshops, furnace- 
rooms, balance-rooms, and laboratories. Thus 
all noxious operations are removed from the 
principal pile, but joined with much con- 
venience to the lecture-rooms, and communi- 
cating easily with the Central Court, common 
to all the departments. 

The laboratory for the chemical students is 
the large detached building seen at the south- 
west angle of the Museum. The Abbot's kitchen 
at Glastonbury will be recognised by you as the 

The Library 39 

prototype. There can be no more successful 
adaptation of an ancient example to modern 
wants, inasmuch as no more convenient nor 
more airy laboratory could be contrived, and 
certainly no bolder or more picturesque design. 

On the upper floor are a large lecture-room 
for 500 persons intended for occasional use, 
furnished with gas and ample water supply, 
with efficient drainage, for experiments; the 
rooms for the Astronomical and Mathemetical 
Professors, and the Entomological collections of 
Mr. Hope ; and along the front, the Library and 
Reading-rooms, together 200 feet in length. 

Concerning the libraries, to the honour of 
the Radcliffe Trustees (the Earl Bathurst, 
W. S. Dugdale, Esq., the Right Hon. S. 
Herbert, the Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone, 
and the Right Hon. T. H. Sotheron Estcourt), 
it must be said, that they have seriously before 
them the question whether they may not 
transfer their collections of Scientific Books to 

40 The Library 

the new Scientific Institution. Here is not the 
place to enter into the arguments which are 
involved in the proposition; it is sufficient to 
say, that close by the Scientific Collections, 
some library of Scientific Literature is neces- 
sary. Wherever the Collections are, the students 
will be. The memory of the great physician 
will be doubly honoured, should the noble pile 
that bears his name, bear it still as the Radcliffe 
Library ; but, marching as it were with the 
new wants of a new age, it may supply 
a splendid reading-room to the over-crowded 
Bodleian Library, afford space for the display 
and protection of rare manuscripts, and of 
Mr. Hope's great collection of historical engrav- 
ings ; while his funds and his literary stores 
begin a new scientific life at the Museum. The 
Trustees will not probably be foiled in their 
endeavour to serve the best interests, both of 
their founders and of the University. Should 
they be so, however, there will be long and 

The Curator's Residence 41 

costly labour before those who use the Museum 
will be supplied with such a collection of 
illustrated works on all scientific subjects, of 
periodicals, and transactions ; or endowed with 
so liberal funds for the maintenance of a library. 

Lastly, I will but mention the graceful 
building which at the south-east angle gives 
a residence to the Curator. The elegance of its 
form, and the beauty of its many details, will 
long tell the tale, that the soul of its architect 
yearned after the subtler refinements of 
Gothic Art; and will say, in unmistakable 
terms, what that man might have accom- 
plished, had ample means been ever placed 
at his command. 

Here, then, I must stop, but not before 
I have added, that while this building has been 
in progress, we have not been wholly un- 
mindful of the hardy hands that worked for 
its erection. Alas ! we can do little for each 
other, to ease the daily toil, and sweeten the 

42 Designs by the Workmen 

hard-earned bread. But with the laying the 
foundation-stone we also erected a humble mess- 
room by its side, where the workmen have daily 
met for their stated meals, have begun each day 
with simple prayers from willing hearts, have 
had various volumes placed for their use, and 
have received frequent instruction and aid from 
the chief officer in the building, Mr. Bramwell, 
our clerk of the works. 

The temper of the Architect has reached 
the men. In their work they have had 
pleasure. The capitals are partly designed 
by the men themselves, and especially by the 
family of O'Shea, who bring wit and alacrity 
from the Emerald Isle to their cheerful task. 
The carving of the capitals and the decoration 
of the windows, limited, very limited, as our 
means have been, have raised ever living in- 
terest ; and as strangers walk in the streets, 
ever and anon they hear the theme discussed 
by the workers who pass by. 

Mr. Ruskin's Letter 43 

May the work prosper ! and in many 
succeeding generations, when we are long 
forgotten, may young minds be here freshly 
learning and warmly loving the things which 
they may be allowed to perceive as in a mirror, 
dimly; but which we, by the ineffable grace 
of God, may, in ways at present unconceived, 
be then beholding, and knowing them then as 
they are known. 

I have purposely avoided the expression of 
my sentiments on many points which interest 
me, lest I be, as perhaps I already am, tedious 
to you. I delay, therefore, no longer to read 
a letter which has just reached me from 
Mr. Ruskin. 


' I have been very anxious, since I 
last heard from you, respecting the progress 
of the works at the Museum, as I thought 

44 Mr. Ruskin's Letter 

I could trace in your expressions some doubt 
of an entirely satisfactory issue. 

'Entirely satisfactory very few issues are 
or can be; and when the enterprise, as in 
this instance, involves the development of 
many new and progressive principles, we 
must always be prepared for a due measure 
of disappointment due partly to human 
weakness, and partly to what the ancients 
would have called fate and we may, perhaps, 
most wisely call the law of trial, which forbids 
any great good being usually accomplished 
without various compensations and deductions, 
probably not a little humiliating. 

' Perhaps in writing to you what seems to 
me to be the bearing of matters respecting 
your Museum, I may be answering a few of the 
doubts of others, as well as fears of your own. 

6 1 am quite sure that when you first used 
your influence to advocate the claims of a 
Gothic design, you did so under the conviction, 

Decoration difficult 45 

shared by all the seriously purposed defenders 
of the Gothic style, that the essence and power 
of Gothic, properly so called, lay in its adapt- 
ability to all need ; in that perfect and unlimited 
flexibility which would enable the architect to 
provide all that was required, in the simplest 
and most convenient way ; and to give you the 
best offices, the best lecture-rooms, laboratories, 
and museums, which could be provided with the 
sum of money at his disposal. 

f So far as the architect has failed in doing 
this ; so far as you find yourself, with the 
other professors, in anywise inconvenienced 
by forms of architecture; so far as pillars or 
piers come in your way, when you have to 
point, or vaults in the way of your voice, 
when you have to speak, or mullions in the 
way of your light, when you want to see; 
just so far the architect has failed in ex- 
pressing his own principles, or those of pure 
Gothic art. I do not suppose that such 

46 Mr. Ruskin's Letter 

failure has taken place to any considerable 
extent ; but so far as it has taken place, it 
cannot in justice be laid to the score of the 
style, since precedent has shown sufficiently, 
that very uncomfortable and useless rooms 
may be provided in all other styles as well 
as in Gothic ; and I think if, in a building 
arranged for many objects of various kinds, 
at a time when the practice of architecture 
has been somewhat confused by the inven- 
tions of modern science, and is hardly yet 
organized completely with respect to the 
new means at its disposal ; if, under such 
circumstances, and with somewhat limited 
funds, you have yet obtained a building in all 
main points properly fulfilling its requirements, 
you have, I think, as much as could be hoped 
from the adoption of any style whatsoever. 

*But I am much more anxious about the 
decoration of the building; for I fear that it 
will be hurried in completion, and that, 

Principles of Decoration 47 

partly in haste and partly in mistimed 
economy, a great opportunity may be lost 
of advancing the best interest of architec- 
tural, and in that, of all other arts. For 
the principles of Gothic decoration, in them- 
selves as simple and beautiful as those of 
Gothic construction, are far less understood, 
as yet, by the English public, and it is little 
likely that any effective measures can be 
taken to carry them out. You know, as 
well as I, what those principles are; yet it 
may be convenient to you that I should here 
state them briefly as I accept them myself, and 
have reason to suppose they are accepted by 
the principal promoters of the Gothic revival. 

C I. The first principle of Gothic decoration 
is that a given quantity of good art will be 
more generally useful when exhibited on a 
large scale, and forming part of a connected 
system, than when it is small and separated. 
That is to say, a piece of sculpture or 
F 2 

48 . Mr. Raskin's Letter 

painting of a certain allowed merit, will be 
more useful when seen on the front of a 
building, or at the end of a room,, and, there- 
fore, by many persons, than if it be so small 
as to be only capable of being seen by one 
or two at a time ; and it will be more useful 
when so combined with other work as to 
produce that kind of impression usually termed 
" sublime" as it is felt on looking at any 
great series of fixed paintings, or at the front 
of a cathedral than if it be so separated as 
to excite only a special wonder or admiration, 
such as we feel for a jewel in a cabinet. 

'The paintings by Meissonier in the 
French Exhibition of this year were bought, 
I believe, before the Exhibition opened, for 
250 guineas each. They each represented one 
figure, about six inches high one, a student 
reading ; the other, a courtier standing in 
a dress-coat. Neither of these paintings 
conveyed any information, or produced any 

Principles of Decoration 49 

emotion whatever, except that of surprise 
at their minute and dextrous execution. 
They will be placed by their possessors on 
the walls of small private apartments, where 
they will probably, once or twice a week, 
form the subject of five minutes 5 conversation 
while people drink their coffee after dinner. 
The sum expended on these toys would have 
been amply sufficient to cover a large building 
with noble frescoes, appealing to every passer 
by, and representing a large portion of the 
history of any given period. But the general 
tendency of the European patrons of art is to 
grudge all sums spent in a way thus calcu- 
lated to confer benefit on the public, and to 
grudge none for minute treasures, of which the 
principal advantage is that a lock and key can 
always render them invisible. 

f l have no hesitation in saying that an 
acquisitive selfishness, rejoicing somewhat 
even in the sensation of possessing what can 

50 Mr. Ruskin's Letter 

NOT be seen by others, is at the root of this 
art-patronage. It is, of course, coupled with 
a sense of securer and more convenient invest- 
ment in what may be easily protected and easily 
carried from place to place, than in large and 
immoveable works ; and also with a vulgar de- 
light in the minute curiosities of productive art, 
rather than in the exercise of inventive genius, 
or the expression of great facts or emotions. 

'The first aim of the Gothic Revivalists is 
to counteract, as far as possible, this feeling on 
all its three grounds. We desire (A) to make 
art large and publicly beneficial, instead of small 
and privately engrossed or secluded ; (B) to 
make art fixed instead of portable, associating 
it with local character and historical memory ; 
(C) to make art expressive instead of curious, 
valuable for its suggestions and teachings, more 
than for the mode of its manufacture. 

6 II. The second great principle of the Gothic 
Revivalists is that all art employed in decora- 

Gothic Revivalists 51 

tion should be informative, conveying truthful 
statements about natural facts, if it conveys any 
statement. It may sometimes merely compose 
its decorations of mosaics, chequers, bosses, 
or other meaningless ornaments ; but if it 
represents organic form (and in all important 
places it will represent it), it will give that 
form truthfully, with as much resemblance to 
nature as the necessary treatment of the piece 
of ornament in question will admit of. 

'This principle is more disputed than the 
first among the Gothic Revivalists themselves. 
I, however, hold it simply and entirely, 
believing that ornamentation is always, 
caeteris paribus, most valuable and beautiful 
when it is founded on the most extended 
knowledge of natural forms, and continually 
conveys such knowledge to the spectator 1 . 

C III. The third great principle of the 

1 A more detailed statement of this principle is given 
in a following letter. 

52 Mr. Ruskin's Letter 

Gothic revival is that all architectural 
ornamentation should be executed by the 
men who design it, and should be of various 
degrees of excellence, admitting, and there- 
fore exciting, the intelligent co-operation of 
various classes of workmen ; and that a 
great public edifice should be, in sculpture 
and painting, somewhat the same as a great 
chorus in music, in which, while, perhaps, 
there may be only one or two voices 
perfectly trained, and of perfect sweetness 
(the rest being in various degrees weaker 
and less cultivated), yet all being ruled in 
harmony, and each sustaining a part con- 
sistent with its strength, the body of sound 
is sublime, in spite of individual weaknesses. 
'The Museum at Oxford was, I know, 
intended by its designer to exhibit in its de- 
coration the working of these three principles ; 
but in the very fact of its doing so, it becomes 
exposed to chances of occasional failure, or 

Three Principles illustrated 53 

even to serious discomfitures, such as would not 
at all have attended the adoption of an estab- 
lished mode of modern work. It is easy to carve 
capitals on models known for four thousand 
years, and impossible to fail in the application 
of mechanical methods and formalized rules. 
But it is not possible to appeal vigorously to 
new canons of judgement without the chance of 
giving offence ; nor to summon into service the 
various phases of human temper and intelli- 
gence, without occasionally finding the tempers 
rough and the intelligence feeble. The Oxford 
Museum is, I believe, the first building in this 
country which has had its ornamentation, in 
any telling parts, trusted to the invention of 
the workman : the result is highly satisfac- 
tory, the projecting windows of the staircases 
being as beautiful in effect as anything I know 
in civil Gothic : but far more may be accom- 
plished for the building if the completion 'of 
its carving be not hastened. Many men of 

54 Mr. Ruskin's Letter 

high artistic power might be brought to take 
an interest in it, and various lessons and 
suggestions given to the workmen which 
would materially advantage the final decora- 
tion of leading features. No very great 
Gothic building, so far as I know, was ever 
yet completed without some of this wise 
deliberation and fruitful patience. 

( I w r as in hopes from the beginning that the 
sculpture might have been rendered typically 
illustrative of the English Flora : how far this 
idea has been as yet carried out I do not know ; 
but I know that it cannot be properly carried 
out without a careful examination of the avail- 
able character of the principal genera, such as 
architects have not hitherto undertaken. The 
proposal which I heard advanced the other day, 
of adding a bold entrance-porch to the fayade, 
appeared to me every way full of advantage, 
the blankness of the fayade having been, to 
my mind, from the first, a serious fault in 

Sculptures of Flora 55 

the design. If a subscription were opened 
for the purpose of erecting one, I should 
think there were few persons interested in 
modern art who would not be glad to join 
in forwarding such an object. 

( I think I could answer for some portions of 
the design being superintended by the best of 
our modern sculptors and painters ; and I be- 
lieve that, if so superintended, the porch might 
and would become the crowning beauty of the 
building, and make all the difference between 
its being only a satisfactory and meritorious 
work, or a most lovely and impressive one. 

( The interior decoration is a matter of much 
greater difficulty ; perhaps you will allow me to 
defer the few words I have to say about it till 
I have time for another letter : which, however, 
I hope to find speedily. 

e Believe me, my dear Acland, 
e Ever affectionately yours, 

c J. RUSKIN.' 

56 Let Gothic observe its Laws 

The principles thus clearly enumerated 
by Mr. Ruskin are, in the main, those that 
animate the earnest student of Gothic. It 
is not for me especially to advocate Gothic 
Art, but only to urge, that if called into 
life, it should be in conformity to its own 
proper laws of vitality. If, week after week, 
in my youth, with fresh senses and a docile 
spirit, I have drunk in each golden glow 
that is poured by a Mediterranean sun from 
over the blue Aegean upon the Athenian 
Parthenon ; if, day by day, sitting on Mars 5 
Hill, I have watched each purple shadow, 
as the temple darkened in majesty against 
the evening sky; if so, it has been to teach 
me, as the alphabet of all Art, to love all 
truth and to hate all falsehood, and to kiss the 
hand of every Master who has brought down, 
under whatever circumstances, and in what- 
ever age, one spark of true light from the 
Beauty and the subtle Law which stamp the 

Pre-Raffaelites lived but once 57 

meanest work of the Everliving, Everworking, 

So, at least, here we have sought to hinder 
all ornament^ unless that ornament be free from 
vicious carelessness ; and to stop all professing 
transcript of Nature, unless it be painstaking, 
sagacious, and honest. Herein, we owe a just 
debt of gratitude to the young school of Artists, 
called, half in jest, Pre-Raffaelites. Genuine 
Pre-Raffaelites lived but once. The yearning, 
half-graceless simplicity which made Raffaelle 
what he was, and which Raffaelle lived himself 
to lose, is, nevertheless, no simplicity after 
Raffaelle died. But faithful love of the Nature 
of God, and power to select by our reason, and 
by a cultivated mind, that which is fit for 
human work, and which human skill can accom- 
plish, is of all time of our times, as well as 
of the days of Giotto, or of the almost matchless 
hand and heart of Van Eyck. Woe to us in the 
judgement of posterity, if, knowingly, because 

58 Be not hasty to finish 

we care not, or unknowingly, because we see 
not, we either will not work faithfully in our 
Art ourselves, or cannot let others work who 
will. Rather do as we have done carve one 
capital as well as we can, though that be feebly, 
and so cheer one human heart, that his love 
in his daily work may be stamped on our and 
his behalf for centuries, rather than varnish the 
whole surface with endless design, which is too 
coarse to be an imitation of natural objects, 
and too mean and too often repeated, to be 
counted within the range of Art. 

This, then, we have desired in our area ; to 
represent some natural objects as our best 
workmen feel them ; to do a few well ; and to 
wait for completion to a future day, when the 
hewn blocks may be carved by the imagination, 
or in the reality, as our children will. 

I must now, for the present, bid you and the 
building farewell. With no wish to deprecate, 
but rather earnestly desiring your thorough 

Be not hasty to finish 59 

criticism and your every counsel, I may still 
remind you, that though, perhaps, not fully 
aware of the difficulties through which the 
Museum has become what it is, you cannot 
be more convinced of the imperfections which 
partly circumstances, partly our common 
nature, have stamped upon it, than are those 
who, for many years, trod each step towards 
its erection, before its Art was discussed, or 
even its Artist named. 


'January 20, 1859. 

6 1 was not able to write, as I had hoped, 
from Switzerland, for I found it impossible to 
lay down any principles respecting the decora- 
tions of the Museum which did not in one way 
or other involve disputed points, too many, and 
too subtle, to be discussed in a letter. Nor do 
I feel the difficulty less in writing to you now, 
so far as regards the question occurring in our 
late conversations, respecting the best mode of 
completing these interior decorations. Yet 
I must write, if only to ask that I may be in 

Need of New Knowledge 61 

some way associated with you in what you 
are now doing to bring the Museum more 
definitely before the public mind; that I 
may be associated at least in the expression 
of my deep sense of the noble purpose of the 
building of the noble sincerity of effort in 
its architect of the endless good which the 
teachings to which it will be devoted must, 
in their ultimate issue, accomplish for man- 
kind. How vast the range of that issue, you 
have shown in the lecture which I have just 
read, in which you have so admirably traced 
the chain of the physical sciences as it en- 
compasses the great concords of this visible 
universe. But how deep the workings of 
these new springs of knowledge are to be 
and how great our need of them, and how 
far the brightness and the beneficence of 
them are to reach among all the best interests 
of men perhaps none of us can yet con- 
ceive, far less know or say. For, much as I 

62 Mr. Ruskiris Second Letter 

reverence physical science as a means of 
mental education (and you know how I have 
contended for it, as such, now these twenty 
years, from the sunny afternoon of spring 
when Ehrenberg, and you, and I, went hunt- 
ing for infusoria in Christ Church meadow 
streams, to the hour when the prize offered 
by Sir Walter Trevelyan and yourself for 
the best essay on the Fauna of that meadow, 
marked the opening of a new era in English 
education) much, I say, as I reverence 
physical science in this function, I rever- 
ence it, at this moment, more as the source 
of utmost human practical power, and the 
means by which the far distant races of the 
world, who now sit in darkness and the 
shadow of death, are to be reached and 
regenerated. At home or far away the call 
is equally instant here, for want of more 
extended physical science, there is plague in 
our streets, famine in our fields; the pest 

Practical Power of Science 63 

strikes root and fruit over a hemisphere of 
the earth, we know not why ; the voices of our 
children fade away into silence of venomous 
death, we know not why; the population 
of this most civilized country resists every 
effort to lead it into purity of habit and 
habitation, to give it genuineness of nourish- 
ment, and wholesomeness of air, as a new 
interference with its liberty ; and insists voci- 
ferously on its right to helpless death. All 
this is terrible; but it is more terrible yet 
that dim, phosphorescent, frightful supersti- 
tions still hold their own over two-thirds of the 
inhabited globe; and that all the phenomena 
of nature which were intended by the Creator 
to enforce His eternal laws of love and judge- 
ment, and which, rightly understood, enforce 
them more strongly by their patient benefi- 
cence, and their salutary destructiveness, than 
the miraculous dew on Gideon* s fleece, or 
the restrained lightnings of Horeb that all 

64 Mr. Ruskin's Second Letter 

these legends of GocPs daily dealing with His 
creatures remain unread, or are read back- 
wards, into blind, hundred-armed horror of 
idol cosmogony. 

( How strange it seems that physical science 
should ever have been thought adverse to 
religion. The pride of physical science is, 
indeed, adverse, like every other pride, both 
to religion and to truth ; but sincerity of 
science, so far from being hostile, is the path- 
maker among the mountains for the feet of 
those who publish peace. 

( Now, therefore, and now only, it seems to 
me, the University has become complete in 
her function as a teacher of the youth of 
the nation, to which every hour gives wider 
authority over distant lands; and from which 
every rood of extended dominion demands new, 
various, and variously applicable knowledge 
of the laws which govern the constitution 
of the globe, and must finally regulate the 

Noble Scope of the Museum 65 

industry, no less than discipline the intellect 
of the human race. I can hardly turn my 
mind from these deep causes of exultation to 
the minor difficulties which beset or restrict 
your undertaking. The great work is accom- 
plished ; the immediate impression made by it 
is of little importance; and as for my own 
special subjects of thought or aim, though 
many of them are closely involved in what has 
been done, and some principles which I believe 
to be, in their way, of great importance, are 
awkwardly compromised in what has been 
imperfectly done, all these I am tempted to 
waive, or content to compromise, when only I 
know that the building is in main points fit for 
its mighty work. Yet you will not think that 
it was matter of indifference to me when I saw, 
as I went over Professor Brodie's chemical 
laboratories the other day, how closely this 
success of adaptation was connected with the 
choice of the style. It was very touching and 

66 Mr. Ruskiris Second Letter 

wonderful to me. Here was the architecture 
which I had learned to know and love in 
pensive ruins, deserted by the hopes and efforts 
of men, or in dismantled fortress-fragments 
recording only their cruelty; here was this 
very architecture lending itself, as if created 
only for these, to the foremost activities of 
human discovery, and the tenderest functions 
of human mercy. No other architecture, as I 
felt in an instant, could have thus adapted 
itself to a new and strange office. No fixed 
arrangements of frieze and pillar, nor accepted 
proportions of wall and roof, nor practised 
refinements of classical decoration, could have 
otherwise than absurdly and fantastically 
yielded its bed to the crucible, and its blast 
to the furnace; but these old vaultings and 
strong buttresses ready always to do service 
to man, whatever his bidding to shake the 
waves of war back from his seats of rock, or 
prolong through faint twilights of sanctuary, 

Gothic adapts itself to all Purposes 67 

the sighs of his superstition he had but to ask 
it of them, and they entered at once into the 
lowliest ministries of the arts of healing, and 
the sternest and clearest offices in the service 
of science. 

c And the longer I examined the Museum 
arrangements, the more I felt that it could be 
only some accidental delay in the recognition 
of this efficiency for its work, which had 
caused any feeling adverse to its progress 
among the members of the University. The 
general idea about the Museum has perhaps 
been, hitherto, that it is a forced endeavour 
to bring decorative forms of architecture into 
uncongenial uses ; whereas, the real fact 
is, as far as I can discern it, that no other 
architecture would, under the required cir- 
cumstances, have been possible; and that any 
effort to introduce classical types of form into 
these laboratories and museums must have 
ended in ludicrous discomfiture. But the 

68 Mr. Ruskin's Second Letter 

building has nerfr reached a point of crisis, 
and it depends upon the treatment which its 
rooms now receive in completion, whether the 
facts of their propriety and utility be acknow- 
ledged by the public, or lost sight of in the 
distraction of their attention to matters wholly 

' So strongly I feel this, that whatever means 
of decoration had been at your disposal, I 
should have been inclined to recommend an 
exceeding reserve in that matter. Perhaps, I 
should even have desired such reserve on 
abstract grounds of feeling. The study of 
Natural History is one eminently addressed to 
the active energies of body and mind. Nothing 
is to be got out of it by dreaming, not always 
much by thinking everything by seeking and 
seeing. It is work for the hills and fields 
work of foot and hand, knife and hammer so 
far as it is to be afterwards carried on in the 
house; the more active and workmanlike our 

Gothic Art, Difficult Art 69 

proceedings the better, fresh air blowing in 
from the windows, and nothing interfering with 
the free space for our shelves and instruments 
on the walls. I am not sure that much interior 
imagery or colour, or other exciting address to 
any of the observant faculties, would be desir- 
able under such circumstances. You know 
best; but I should no more think of painting 
in bright colours beside you, while you were 
dissecting or analysing, than of entertaining 
you by a concert of fifes and cymbals. 

6 But farther do you suppose Gothic decora- 
tion is an easy thing, or that it is to be carried 
out with a certainty of success at the first trial 
under new and difficult conditions? The 
system of the Gothic decorations took eight 
hundred years to mature, gathering its power 
by undivided inheritance of traditional method, 
and unbroken accession of systematic power; 
from its culminating point in the Sainte 
Chapelle, it faded through four hundred years 

70 Mr. Ruskin's Second Letter 

of splendid decline; now for two centuries it 
has lain dead and more than so buried ; and 
more than so, forgotten, as a dead man out of 
mind. Do you expect to revive it out of those 
retorts and furnaces of yours, as the cloud- 
spirit of the Arabian sea rose from beneath 
the seals of Solomon? Perhaps I have been 
myself faultfully answerable for this too eager 
hope in your mind (as well as in that of 
others), by what I have urged so often re- 
specting the duty of bringing out the power 
of subordinate workmen in decorative design. 
But do you think I meant workmen trained 
(or untrained) in the way that ours have 
been until lately, and then cast loose on 
a sudden, into unassisted contention with 
unknown elements of style? I meant the 
precise contrary of this; I meant workmen 
as we have yet to create them : men inheriting 
the instincts of their craft through many gen- 
erations, rigidly trained in every mechanical 

Workmen to be trained 71 

art that bears on their materials, and fami- 
liarized from infancy with every condition of 
their beautiful and perfect treatment ; informed 
and refined in manhood, by constant observa- 
tion of all natural fact and form ; then classed, 
according to their proved capacities, in ordered 
companies, in which every man shall know his 
part, and take it calmly, and without effort or 
doubt indisputably well unaccusably accom- 
plished mailed and weaponed cap-a-pie for 
his place and function. Can you lay your 
hand on such men ? or do you think that 
mere natural good-will and good-feeling can 
at once supply their place ? Not so and the 
more faithful and earnest the minds you have 
to deal with, the more careful you should be 
not to urge them towards fields of effort, in 
which, too early committed, they can only be 
put to unserviceable defeat. 

tf Nor can you hope to accomplish, by rule 
or system, what cannot be done by individual 

72 Mr. Ruskin's Second Letter 

taste. The laws of colour are definable, up to 
certain limits, but they are not yet defined. 
So far are they from definition, that the last, 
and, on the whole, best work on the subject 
(Sir Gardner Wilkinson's) declares the (( colour 
concords" of preceding authors to be discords ; 
and vice versa. 

c Much, therefore, as I love colour decoration 
when it is rightly given, and essential as it has 
been felt by the great architects of all periods 
to the completion of their work, I would not, 
in your place, endeavour to carry out such 
decoration at present, in any elaborate degree, 
in the interior of the Museum. Leave it for 
future thought : above all, try no experiments. 
Let small drawings be made of the proposed 
arrangements of colour in every room; have 
them altered on the paper till you feel they are 
right ; then carry them out firmly and simply ; 
but, observe, with as delicate execution as 
possible. Rough work is good in its place, 

Economy unfortunate 73 

three hundred feet above the eye, on a cathe- 
dral front, but not in the interior of rooms, 
devoted to studies in which everything de- 
pends upon accuracy of touch and keenness 
of sight. 

6 With respect to this finishing, by the last 
touches bestowed on the sculpture of the 
building, I feel painfully the harmfulness 
of any ill-advised parsimony at this moment. 
For it may, perhaps, be alleged by the advo- 
cates of retrenchment, that so long as the 
building is fit for its uses (and your report 
is conclusive as to its being so), economy 
in treatment of external feature is perfectly 
allowable, and will in no wise diminish the 
serviceableness of the building in the great 
objects which its designs regarded. To a cer- 
tain extent this is true. You have comfortable 
rooms, I hope sufficient apparatus ; and it now 
depends much more on the professors than 
on the ornaments of the building, whether or 

74 Mr. Ruskin's Second Letter 

not it is to become a bright or obscure centre 
of public instruction. Yet there are other 
points to be considered. As the building 
stands at present, there is a discouraging 
aspect of parsimony about it. One sees that 
the architect has done the utmost he could 
with the means at his disposal, and that just 
at the point of reaching what was right, he 
has been stopped for want of funds. This 
is visible in almost every stone of the edifice. 
It separates it with broad distinctiveness from 
all the other buildings in the University. It 
may be seen at once that our other public 
institutions, and all our colleges though some 
of them simply designed are yet richly built, 
never pinchingly. Pieces of princely cost- 
liness, every here and there, mingle among 
the simplicities or severities of the student's 
life. What practical need, for instance, have we 
at Christ Church of the beautiful fan-vaulting 
under which we ascend to dine? We might 

Richness of Work a Sign of Regard 75 

have as easily achieved the eminence of our 
banquets under a plain vault. What need 
have the readers in the Bodleian of the ribbed 
traceries which decorate its external walls ? 
Yet, which of those readers would not think 
that learning was insulted by their removal? 
And are there any of the students of Balliol 
devoid of gratitude for the kindly munificence 
of the man who gave them the beautiful 
sculptured brackets of their oriel window, 
when three massy projecting stones would have 
answered the purpose just as well? In these 
and all other regarded and pleasant portions 
of our colleges, we find always a wealthy and 
worthy completion of all appointed features, 
which I believe is not without strong, though 
untraced effect, on the minds of the younger 
scholars, giving them respect for the branches 
of learning which these buildings are intended 
to honour, and increasing, in a certain degree, 
that sense of the value of delicacy and accuracy 

76 Mr. Ruskin's Second Letter 

which is the first condition of advance in 
those branches of learning themselves. 

'Your Museum, if you now bring it to 
hurried completion, will convey an impression 
directly the reverse of this. It will have the 
look of a place, not where a revered system 
of instruction is established, but where an un- 
advised experiment is being disadvantageously 
attempted. It is yet in your power to avoid 
this, and to make the edifice as noble in aspect 
as in function. Whatever chance there may be 
of failure in interior work, rich ornamentation 
may be given, without any chance of failure, 
to just that portion of the exterior which will 
give pleasure to every passer-by, and express 
the meaning of the building best to the eyes 
of strangers. There is, I repeat, no chance of 
serious failure in this external decoration, be- 
cause your architect has at his command the 
aid of men, such as worked with the architects 
of past times. Not only has the art of Gothic 

Sculpture our Best Ornament 77 

sculpture in part remained, though that of 
Gothic colour has been long lost, but the 
unselfish and I regret to say, in part self- 
sacrificing zeal of two first-rate sculptors, 
Mr. Munro and Mr. Woolner, which has 
already given you a series of noble statues, 
is still at your disposal to head and systematize 
the efforts of inferior workmen. 

( I do not know if you will attribute it to a 
higher estimate than yours of the genius of 
the O'Shea family, or to a lower estimate of 
what they have as yet accomplished, that I 
believe they will, as they proceed, produce 
much better ornamental sculpture than any at 
present completed in the Museum. It is also 
to be remembered that sculptors are able to 
work for us with a directness of meaning which 
none of our painters could bring to their task, 
even were they disposed to help us. A painter 
is scarcely excited to his strength, but by 
subjects full of circumstance, such as it would 


78 Mr. Ruskin's Second Letter 

be difficult to suggest appropriately in the pre- 
sent building ; but a sculptor has room enough 
for his full power, in the portrait statues, 
which are necessarily the leading features 
of good Gothic decoration. Let me pray 
you, therefore, so far as you have influence 
with the Delegacy, to entreat their favourable 
consideration of the project stated in Mr. 
GresswelPs appeal the enrichment of the 
doorway, and the completion of the sculpture 
of the West Front. There is a reason for 
desiring such a plan to be carried out, of wider 
reach than any bearing on the interests of the 
Museum itself. I believe that the elevation 
of all arts in England to their true dignity, 
depends principally on our recovering that 
unity of purpose in sculptors and architects, 
which characterized the designers of all great 
Christian buildings. Sculpture, separated from 
architecture, always degenerates into effemin- 
acies and conceits; architecture, stripped of 

Commemorative Statues 79 

sculpture, is at best a convenient arrangement 
of dead walls ; associated, they not only adorn, 
but reciprocally exalt each other, and give to 
all the arts of the country in which they thus 
exist, a correspondent tone of majesty. 

6 But I would plead for the enrichment of this 
doorway by portrait sculpture, not so much 
even on any of these important grounds, as 
because it would be the first example in 
modern English architecture of the real value 
and right place of commemorative statues. 
We seem never to know at present where to 
put such statues. In the midst of the blighted 
trees of desolate squares, or at the crossings of 
confused streets, or balanced on the pinnacles 
of pillars, or riding across the tops of triumphal 
arches, or blocking up the aisles of cathedrals, 
in none of these positions, I think, does the 
portrait statue answer its purpose. It may be 
a question whether the erection of such statues 
is honourable to the erectors, but assuredly it is 

H 2 

80 Mr. Ruskin's Second Letter 

not honourable to the persons whom it pretends 
to commemorate; nor is it anywise matter of 
exultation to a man who has deserved well of 
his country, to reflect that his effigy may one 
day encumber a crossing, or disfigure a park 
gate. But there is no man of worth or heart, 
who would not feel it a high and priceless 
reward that his statue should be placed where 
it might remind the youth of England of what 
had been exemplary in his life, or useful in his 
labours, and might be regarded with no empty 
reverence, no fruitless pensiveness, but with 
the emulative, eager, unstinted passionateness 
of honour, which youth pays to the dead leaders 
of the cause it loves, or discoverers of the light 
by which it lives. To be buried under weight 
of marble, or with splendour of ceremonial, is 
still no more than burial; but to be remem- 
bered daily, with profitable tenderness, by the 
activest intelligences of the nation we have 
served, and to have power granted even to the 

Portraiture of Animals and Plants 81 

shadows of the poor features,, sunk into dust, 
still to warn,, to animate, to command, as the 
father's brow rules and exalts the toil of his 
children. This is not burial, but immor- 

' There is, however, another kind of portrai- 
ture, already richly introduced in the works of 
the Museum ; the portraiture, namely, of flowers 
and animals, respecting which I must ask you 
to let me say a few selfish, no less than congra- 
tulatory words selfish, inasmuch as they bear 
on this visible exposition of a principle which 
it has long been one of my most earnest aims 
to maintain. We English call ourselves a prac- 
tical people; but, nevertheless, there are some 
of our best and most general instincts which 
it takes us half-centuries to put into practice. 
Probably no educated Englishman or English- 
woman has ever, for the last forty years, 
visited Scotland, with leisure on their hands, 
without making a pilgrimage to Melrose ; nor 

82 Mr. Ruskin's Second Letter 

have they ever, I suppose, accomplished the 
pilgrimage without singing to themselves the 
burden of Scott's description of the Abbey. 
Nor in that description (may it not also be 
conjectured ?) do they usually feel any couplets 
more deeply than the 

" Spreading herbs and flowerets bright 
Glistened with the dew of night. 
No herb nor floweret glistened there, 
But was carved in the cloister arches as fair." 

And yet, though we are raising every year in 
England new examples of every kind of costly 
and variously intended buildings ecclesias- 
tical, civil, and domestic none of us, through 
all that period, had boldness enough to put 
the pretty couplets into simple practice. We 
went on, even in the best Gothic work we 
attempted, clumsily copying the rudest orna- 
ments of previous buildings; we never so 
much as dreamed of learning from the monks 
of Melrose, and seeking for help beneath the 

Monks of Melrose 83 

dew that sparkled on their " gude kail " 
garden 3 . 

' Your Museum at Oxford is literally the first 
building raised in England since the close of 
the fifteenth century, which has fearlessly put 
to new trial this old faith in nature, and in the 
genius of the unassisted workman, who gathered 
out of nature the materials he needed. I am 
entirely glad, therefore, that you have decided 
on engraving for publication one of O'Shea's 
capitals 2 ; it will be a complete type of the 
whole work, in its inner meaning, and far better 
to show one of them in its completeness, than 
to give any reduced sketch of the building. 

1 'The monks of Melrose made good kail 
On Friday, when they fasted.' 

The kail leaf is the one principally employed in the 
decorations of the abbey. 

2 See vignette Frontispiece. The capital represents the 
following ferns : 

Scolopendrium vulgare, 
Blechnum boreale, 
Filix mas. 

84 Mr. Ruskiris Second Letter 

Nevertheless, beautiful as that capital is, and 
as all the rest of O'Shea's work is likely to 
be, it is not yet perfect Gothic sculpture ; and 
it might give rise to dangerous error, if the 
admiration given to these carvings were un- 

6 1 cannot, of course, enter in this letter into 
any discussion of the question, more and more 
vexed among us daily, respecting the due 
meaning and scope of conventionalism in treat- 
ment of natural form ; but I may state briefly 
what, I trust, will be the conclusion to which 
all this " vexing " will at last lead our best 

' The highest art in all kinds is that which 
conveys the most truth, and the best ornamen- 
tation possible would be the painting of interior 
walls with frescoes by Titian, representing per- 
fect Humanity in colour ; and the sculpture of 
exterior walls by Phidias, representing perfect 
Humanity in form. Titian and Phidias are 

Naturalism and Conventionalism 85 

precisely alike in their conception and treat- 
ment of nature everlasting standards of the 

'Beneath ornamentation, such as men like 
these could bestow, falls in various rank, ac- 
cording to its subordination to vulgar uses or 
inferior places, what is commonly conceived as 
ornamental art. The lower its office, and the 
less tractable its material, the less of nature it 
should contain, until a zig-zag becomes the best 
ornament for the hem of a robe, and a mosaic 
of bits of glass the best design for a coloured 
window. But all these forms of lower art are 
to be conventional only because they are 
subordinate: not because conventionalism is 
in itself a good or desirable thing. All right 
conventionalism is a wise acceptance of, and 
compliance with, conditions of restraint or in- 
feriority; it may be inferiority of our know- 
ledge or power as in the art of a semi-savage 
nation; or restraint by reason of material as 

86 Mr. Ruskirfs Second Letter 

in the way the glass-painter should restrict 
himself to transparent hue, and a sculptor 
deny himself the eyelash and the film of flow- 
ing hair, which he cannot cut in marble; 
but in all cases whatever, right convention- 
alism is either a wise acceptance of an inferior 
place, or a noble display of power under ac- 
cepted limitation : it is not an improvement of 
natural form into something better or purer 
than Nature herself. 

' Now this great and most precious principle 
may be compromised in two quite opposite 
ways. It is compromised on one side, when 
men suppose that the degradation of a natural 
form which fits it for some subordinate place 
is an improvement of it; and that a black 
profile on a red ground, because it is proper 
on a water-jug, is therefore an idealization of 
Humanity, and nobler art than a picture of 
Titian. And it is compromised equally gravely 
on the opposite side, when men refuse to submit 

Gothic Revival still incomplete 87 

to the limitation of material and the fitnesses 
of office ; when they try to produce finished 
pictures in coloured glass, or substitute the in- 
considerate imitation of natural objects for the 
perfectness of adapted and disciplined design. 

6 There is a tendency in the work of the 
Oxford Museum to err on this last side ; un- 
avoidable, indeed, in the present state of our 
art-knowledge and less to be regretted in a 
building devoted to natural science than in any 
other: nevertheless, I cannot close this letter 
without pointing it out, and warning the general 
reader against supposing that the ornamentation 
of the Museum is, or can be as yet, a repre- 
sentation of what Gothic work will be, when its 
revival is complete. Far more severe, yet more 
perfect and lovely, that work will involve, 
under sterner conventional restraint, the ex- 
pression not only of natural form, but of all 
vital and noble natural law. For the truth of 
decoration is never to be measured by its 

88 Mr. Rtt skin's Second Letter 

imitative power, but by its suggestive and infor- 
mative power. In the annexed spandrel of the 
iron-work of our roof, for instance, the horse- 
chesnut leaf and nut are used as the principal 
elements of form : they are not ill-arranged, 
and produce a more agreeable effect than con- 
volutions of the iron could have given, unhelped 
by any reference to natural objects. Neverthe- 
less, I do not call it an absolutely good design ; 
for it would have been possible, with far severer 
conventional treatment of the iron bars, and 
stronger constructive arrangement of them, to 
have given vigorous expression, not of the shapes 
of leaves and nuts only, but of their peculiar 
radiant or fanned expansion, and other condi- 
tions of group and growth in the tree; which 
would have been just the more beautiful and 
interesting, as they would have arisen from 
deeper research into nature, and more adaptive 
modifying power in the designer's mind, than 
the mere leaf termination of a rivetted scroll. 

Iron Spandrel 

8 9 

go Mr. Ruskin's Second Letter 

( I am compelled to name these deficiencies, in 
order to prevent misconception of the principles 
we are endeavouring to enforce; but I do not 
name them as at present to be avoided, or even 
much to be regretted. They are not chargeable 
. either on the architect, or on the subordinate 
workmen ; but only on the system which has for 
three centuries withheld all of us from healthy 
study; and although I doubt not that lovelier 
and juster expressions of the Gothic principle 
will be ultimately arrived at by us, than any 
which are possible in the Oxford Museum, its 
builders will never lose their claim to our chief 
gratitude, as the first guides in a right direc- 
tion ; and the building itself the first exponent 
of the recovered truth will only be the more 
venerated the more it is excelled. 

( Believe me, my dear Acland, 

'Ever affectionately yours, 

tf j. RUSKIN.' 

Letter from Professor Phillips 91 

After the perusal of these remarks, any 
further commentary would but divert the 
spectator from his own critical examination. 
Especially do I wish the last paragraph to 
be duly weighed; in the sense which is there 
expressed do I heartily commend the work 
of our architect to your favourable considera- 
tion. It remains to add only to these pages 
the following explanatory letter which Pro- 
fessor Phillips has enabled and permitted me 
to print. 

' OXFOBD, Jan. 21, 1859. 


c I lose no time in stating very concisely 
the purpose we had in view, when it was pro- 
posed to place shafts of British marbles in the 
corridors of the Museum, and to crown them 
with capitals of natural objects. A few words 
are appended to show in what degree we are 
able to effect the object, and the method on 
which we proceed. 

92 Letter from Professor Phillips 

' The British marbles are still only partially 
known. Including in the term marbles some- 
thing more than the "marmora" of our early 
mineralogists, and including granitic rocks, 
serpentines, &c., we desired to obtain specimens 
of all the more important kinds important 
on grounds of scientific interest, as well as 
for their commercial value and architectural 
utility. Here and there our efforts failed ; we 
could not "for love or money " get the stone 
we wanted; but on the whole our success is 
much beyond any previous example in this, 
and, I believe, in any country. 

'In the arrangement of the many valuable 
and curious examples of polishable stones, 
which the liberality of our friends has enabled 
us to bring together, we have always desired 
to employ so much of system as to make 
these ornamental parts of the fabric really and 
obviously useful, as a part of the exhibition 
of natural objects. Regarding the rocks as 

Arrangements of Shafts 93 

of aqueous or igneous origin, and of unequal 
geological date, we wished to exhibit these 
relations in our building, by giving to each 
group an appropriate place. It was found, 
after great efforts, possible to accomplish this 
to a considerable extent, but not quite so 
perfectly as was hoped. The principal reason 
is that we could not obtain certain marbles 
known 150 and more years since, to complete 
our series of mesozoic limestones. 

'If now* you will stand in the centre of 
the great court, and turn your eyes to the 
west, soils ad occasum, you will see, in the 
lower range of shafts, six fine examples of 
granite and its twin-brother syenite. First, 
on the left, Aberdeen gray granite, sur- 
mounted by the sculptured capital of Alis- 
maceous plants; next, Aberdeen red granite, 
crowned by the Butomaceae; then the largely 
porphyritic gray granite of Lamorna, with a 
capital of the date-palm. On the other side 

94 Letter from Professor Phillips 

of the entrance, stands my special column of 
syenite from Charnwood Forest, with the 
cocoa-palm for its crown; then the beautiful 
mottled granite of Cruachan, elaborated for us 
by the Marquis of Breadalbane, the capital 
being Pontederaceae ; and finally, the red 
granite of Ross in Mull, the gift of the 
Duke of Argyle, whose capital is Liliaceous. 
6 1 don't at all intend to lead you so slowly 
round the remainder of the quadrangle. On 
the north you see eight shafts, all from Ireland 
or Devonshire, all belonging to palaeozoic, 
stratified, or metamorphic rocks. At the 
extreme are the beautiful marbles of Torquay 
and Mary church between them the green 
serpentinous marbles of Galway, and red and 
black-tinted limestones of Cork, Limerick, &c. 
The capitals will be Acotyledonous (see the 
splendid fern sculpture above Marychurch 
shaft) or Monocotyledonous, as Gramineae, 
Acoracese, &c. 

Arrangements of Shafts 95 

c Now turn to the east, and behold a second 
set of igneous and metamorphic rocks, to face 
the old granites and porphyries. Here, on 
the left (next to Marychurch column) you see 
your own Killerton rock (ancient how 
ancient!) lava, crowned with Zamiaceae, from 
which peeps the Didelphys ; next the Rock of 
Trerice, its capital will be a thorny Zamia ; 
then Roche gives a shaft to be capped by 
Cupressinae ; next are two serpentines with 
capitals of Abietinae and Araucarinse ; Inverara 
porphyry follows, and supports sculptured 
branches of Taxaceae. St. Leven's porphyry 
and black serpentine complete this series, and 
are to bear on their heads plants of the orders 
Smilaceae and Dioscoraceae. 

*On the south, you have a beautiful and 
pretty well-known series of English and Welsh 
marbles, mostly of the carboniferous limestone, 
but including what are less commonly seen, 
the breccia of Mendip and the gypsum of 

I 2 

96 Letter from Professor Phillips 

Chellaston. The plants destined to furnish 
capitals for these are the Monocotyledonous 
orders, as Orchidaeese, Musacese, Iridaceae, &c. 

'Thus have we thirty shafts of the larger 
size placed, with their thirty capitals executed 
or planned. Besides the thirty capitals we 
have to provide sixty corbels, and are doing 
this so as to add to each capital a neighbour 
bearing some natural affinity to it. Only in 
one instance has this been departed from; it 
is in the corbel of the Malvaceae, close by the 
Filices a case of two quite different groups 
wonderfully executed, and looking at each 
other with mutual admiration ! 

'Now, ascend to the upper corridor, and 
survey the smaller shafts, to the number of 
ninety-six, which appear on its four sides. 
As yet no capitals are carved on them. 
Beginning on the west side, and following the 
same order as for the shafts below, you find 
the whole corridor (twenty-four shafts) occupied 

Arrangements of Shafts 97 

by granite,, porphyry, serpentine, &c. Among 
them are granites of Aberdeen, Criffel, and 
Cornwall porphyritic granites of remarkable 
richness (often called porphyry), el vans, por- 
phyries, and various quartzose compounds. 

'The capitals for these shafts will be all 
selected from the Corolliflorous division of 
Dicotyledonous plants. 

'The northern upper corridor is wholly 
filled with marbles from the carboniferous 
limestone and older rocks of Ireland, including 
the serpentine of Galway. The capitals 
will exemplify Monochlamydeous plants and 

'On the western side the series of shafts is 
varied. It was not found possible to obtain 
for this side all the marbles formerly known 
and used in the Oolitic and Wealden districts 
of England; and some of the bays have been 
filled with other rocks which it was desirable 
to exhibit. At the extremities we have from 

98 Letter from Professor Phillips 

Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, and Somerset- 
shire, specimens of the Permian limestones, 
triassic breccia, and gypsum in the centre are 
granites of Jersey and Cornwall flanked by 
columns of slate and shafts of lias, blue and 
white; marbles of Purbeck, Stamford, and 

( The capitals of these shafts will be 
designed from the Thalamiflorous division 
of the Dicotyledonous plants. 

6 Lastly, on the south side is a series of the 
finest rocks belonging to the carboniferous and 
Devonian limestones of England and Wales, 
including the crinoidal marble of Dent (the 
birthplace of Sedgwick, who gives the shaft), 
the various marbles of Durham, Derbyshire, 
Plymouth, Torquay, Anglesea, and South 
Wales. It will be interesting to compare these 
with the coeval rocks of Ireland, which stand 
opposite to them. The capitals of these will 
be ornamented by Calyciflorous Dicotyledons. 

Science and Art combined 99 

' Thus, as far as possible, the representations 
of plants (varied here and there by animals 
geographically and naturally associated with 
them), will be placed, with so much of system 
as to help the memory, and will be sculptured 
with so much attention to their natural habit, 
as to satisfy the botanist as well as the artist, 
neither of whom can expect the most skilful 
human hand to express in rough stone, by 
means of hard steel, all the delicacy and grace 
which, with finer materials and by finer pro- 
cesses, the GREAT ARTIFICER moulds the lilies 
of the field and the leaves of the forest. 

c I need not remind you that with this view of 
the utility and meaning of the arrangement of 
our subjects, the architects (who have been very 
zealous in their efforts to make the whole suc- 
cessful) have been always able to combine what 
is due to the building as a work of art ; nor am 
I aware that their opinions and ours have been 
in the least degree difficult to reconcile. We 

ioo Letter from Professor Phillips 

must not forget the sculptors, who have worked 
with singular zeal and ability. Finally, this 
is not a haphazard collection of pretty stones 
crowned by pretty flowers, but a selection of 
marbles and sculptures, intended to illustrate 
points of some interest and importance in 
science and art. Upon the whole, you will 
probably not regret to have given so much 
time and attention to this matter; all that is 
told me confirms my own opinion that it was 
well worth while to make this trial to combine 
grace with utility, and that the result will not 
be disappointing to those who have given us 
money for our work, and, what is more pre- 
cious, their full confidence that we should use 
it with liberality and prudence. 

'Ever yours truly, 


These pages have attempted to illustrate 
the general scope of the Museum its aims 

The End 101 

in Art its purpose as an Educational institu- 
tion. Ere long it is to be hoped that the 
building will be thought of but as a frame 
made by a skilful Artist a frame in which 
to set the records of that Art which is 
wrought without hands. 




Aristotle. Euclid. 


Bacon. Priestley. 






Oersted. Hunter. 



His Royal Highness The Prince Consort. 

There remain therefore eighteen corbels 
awaiting the gifts of statues of the great men, 
whether ancient or modern, who have ad- 
vanced the knowledge and inspired the grati- 
tude and respect of mankind. The University 
will surely hail with satisfaction the gradual 

Statues already given 103 

completion of these incentives to lives of 
thought^ more numerous as each decennium 
quickly passes by. 

In regard to medicine, the last of the list, 
it may be remarked that the great Practitioner 
Sydenham stands between the Physiologist 
and the investigator of the whole range of 
Biology, Anatomical, Physiological, Patho- 
logical ; that these three Moderns are supported 
on either side by the Ancients, Hippocrates 
and Aristotle, the latter being succeeded in the 
series by Bacon. The Student enters the Court 
between Aristotle and Bacon. 

It has long been hoped that corbels would 
have been occupied by at least the following in 
their several departments. 

Hipparchus. Cuvier. 

Archimedes. Darwin. 

Eobert Boyle. Galen. 

Lavoisier. Haller. 

Faraday. Boerhaave. 

104 On the Irish Workmen 

Even so, very many names immortal for their 
work and their example would be absent from 
us. Medicine, for instance, the most complex 
and most difficult of all the natural sciences, 
is typically, but quite inadequately, represented. 
Will no Physicist have rendered into stone the 
fine statue in plaster of paris of Oersted, 
generously presented after much trouble and 
expense by Herr Jacobsen of Copenhagen ? 

Will no Chemist erect Lavoisier or Fara- 
day ? nor Biologist Cuvier or Darwin ? nor 
Astronomer one of the Herschels ? 


A few words may here be acceptable con- 
cerning the relations of the workmen to the 
Museum during its erection. 

The first step taken after the foundation 
stone was laid by the Earl of Derby, was to 
erect on the adjoining ground, the future 
Parks, a simple dining-room, smoking-room, 

On the Irish Workmen 105 

kitchen and reading-room: with a caretaker. 
It was ascertained that less than this arrange- 
ment would be unacceptable and inadequate. 
All the rooms were fully used. Dr. Cotton of 
Worcester College, undertook to arrange for 
a very short service akin to Family Prayers 
just at the breakfast hour. Many of the men 
being strangers had only a sleeping room in 
the town, and this building was their home. 

Sir Thomas Deane and Mr. Woodward had 
experience of Irish workmen in building the 
Trinity College Museum in Dublin. They 
knew well the inventive character and artistic 
nature of their brethren of the Green Island, 
inherited from the earliest years wherein we 
have record of the Irish saints by whom Britain 
was taught and Christianized. 

Some of the workmen came over with the 
Architects whose motto had been Nisi Dominus 
aedificaverit domum. The strongest of these 
men were of the family of O'Shea. 

Mr. Fergusson, who had more of architec- 

io6 On the Irish Workmen 

tural learning than of humour, or of mediaeval 
instinct, was specially indignant at some of 
the carvings done by these men. These were 
often as beautiful in design as in execution 
though they would occasionally be as 
grotesque as the typical gurgoyle. One had 
sometimes to say to Mr. Woodward, c Oh ! 
why did you not all stop back in the twelfth 
or thirteenth century, your proper place, and 
not drop down to invade us prosaic folk here/ 
But in vain. Art and humour were inborn. 
Woodward sent ten letters in his own hand- 
writing to one workman concerning the carving 
of one of the windows of the Front. 

It had been intended from the first that all 
decoration should illustrate the Kosmos, as 
religious histories or allusions for the most 
part are represented in ecclesiastical edifices. 
The workmea generally made the designs for 
places and objects appointed to them by the 

The upper windows in the Front were to 

On the Irish Workmen 107 

illustrate some part of the Fauna and Flora 
of our planet; the windows on the South 
of the Front the vertebrate classes, Man, 
Quadrumana, Carnivora. 

The second window was first begun by 
order of the Architect, but, probably, not by 
that of the Delegates, it being long vacation. 

O'Shea rushed into my house one afternoon, 
and in a state of wild excitement related as 

f " The Master of the University," cried he, 
" found me on my scaffold just now." " What 
are you at ? " says he. u Monkeys," says I. 
" Come down directly," says he ; " you shall 
not destroy the property of the University." 
"I work as Mr. Woodward orders me." ' f Come 
down directly," says he; "come down." 3 

< What shall I do ? ' said O'Shea to me. ' I 
don't know ; Mr. Woodward told you monkeys, 
the Master tells you no monkeys. I don't know 
what you are to do.' He instantly rushed out 
as he came, without another word. 

io8 On the Irish Workmen 

The next day I went to see what had 
happened. O'Shea was hammering furiously 
at the window. 'What are you at?' said I. 
'Cats/ says he. 'The Master came along, 
and says, " You are doing monkeys when I 
told you not/ 5 " To-day its cats," says I. The 
Master was terrified and went away. 3 

It is quite intelligible that this old century 
proceeding peculiar to Gothic and Irish art 
was puzzling to Mr. Fergusson's regulated 
mind. It did not however so end; Shea was 
dismissed. I went to wish him good-bye with 
mixed and perplexed feelings. 

I found Shea on a single ladder in the porch, 
wielding heavy blows such as one imagines the 
genius of Michael Angelo might have struck 
when he was first blocking out the design of 
some immortal work. 'What are you doing, 
Shea? I thought you were gone, and Mr. 
Woodward has given no design for the long 
moulding in the hard green stone/ 

Striking on still, Shea shouted, 

On the Irish Workmen 109 

' Parrhots and Owwls ! 

Parrhots and Owwls ! 

Members of Convocation ! * 

There they were, blocked out alternately. 

What could I do ? 'Well/ 1 said, meditatively, 
' Shea, you must knock their heads off.' 

e Never,' says he. 

6 Directly/ said I. 

Their heads went. Their bodies, not yet 
evolved, remain to testify to the humour, the 
force, the woes, the troubles, in the character 
and art of our Irish brethren much to love, 
much to direct, much to lament. 

If some of my sterner brethren, for whom, 
after its kind, this enthusiasm laboured, think 
this matter too trifling for their graver life, 
they may reflect that when once the building 
was ready for them and their weighty work, the 
aesthetic hammer was wielded no more. Out 
of four hundred Capitals and Bases, about one 
hundred only are carved. One delicately exe- 
cuted window is from a design by Mr. Ruskin. 

no Contributors to the Sculpture 


Before the occupation of the Museum, gifts 
either of Statues, of Shafts, or of money for 
them, were made by more than one hundred 
and fifty friends of the work. 

Her Most Gracious Majesty presented five 
Statues, including Francis Bacon, 

The Citizens gave a Statue of the Prince 

The Undergraduates gave one of Aristotle. 

Shafts, Capitals and Carving for the Win- 
dows were given by persons so various that I 
venture to record a few. 

The Duke of Argyll. 

Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone. 

Dr. Pusey. 

Seven Heads of Colleges. 

The Earl of Derby. 

Sir Charles Lyell. 

The Kev. Professor Sedgwick. 

Sir Robert Murchison. 

Contributors to the Sculpture in 

Mr. Godfrey Lushington. 

Dean Liddell. 

Dean Church. 

The Chaplains of Ch. Ch. 

Sir Benjamin Brodie 

(President Koyal Society). 

Gilbert Scott. 
Dean Buckland. 

Rev. Dr. Jacobson 

(afterwards Bishop of Chester). 

Professor Beale. 


P. Lutley Sclater. 

The Earl of Harrowby. 

Sir Stephen Glyn. 


Mr. WOODWARD did not live to see the 
Museum occupied. Delicate always, he became 
consumptive. In 1859 ne wen ^ f r the winter 
to Algiers. He was taken ill on his way 
home, and died, after a few hours of violent 
haemorrhage from the lungs, alone in an Inn 
at Lyons. How great a loss to Art, and to 

H2 Mr. Woodward 

those who knew the loveable nature that lay 
hid beneath his courteous silence,, cannot be 
told. Stranger though he comparatively was, 
we had arranged special rooms in the house 
adjoining, breaking a door through to our own, 
that he might pass away in due time, cared 
for, in peace to the end, after his return. A 
memoir of his opinions on the nature of Art 
in Architecture, and on the character of the 
Artist, was to be written by one in Oxford, 
who also, alas ! passed away before it was 
accomplished. No other could take it up. 
Alexander Munro made a medallion worthy 
alike of the most accomplished sculptor who 
also died in his prime abroad, and of our 
common friend. It may be studied in the 
Radcliffe Library at the Museum, both as 
a work of Art, and as the expressive record 
of a guileless contemplative nature.